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Retired McDonald's Franchise Owner Goes From Fast Food To Fine Dining

Rob Dob's artist's rendering
Rob Dob's
The new Rob Dob's restaurant will open in September at 801 N. Hershey Road, Bloomington.

Bob Dobski was a franchise owner of Bloomington-Normal McDonald’s for 35 years. But instead of retiring, he decided to leap into the world of fine dining.

Dobski said he hopes to have the upscale restaurant, Rob Dob’s, opened by late September.

How did a longtime king of fast food pivot from McDonald’s to the high end restaurant scene?

“Instead of sitting in a lobby of some fast food restaurant drinking coffee for three hours with a bunch of other retired people, I might as well do something that can help the community and benefit the community,” Dobski said on WGLT’s Sound Ideas.

Even with his knowledge of the food service industry, the new restaurant has proven to be a valuable learning experience for Dobski.

“It's immensely different, putting all these pieces together of designing a restaurant, and equipping it and hiring and marketing it. Without that help of a global company like McDonald's was for that 35 years, this is way different. In fact, this has really opened my eyes,” he said.

Dobski plans to hire 120 to 130 employees. He says that will contribute to the unique ambience of the restaurant at 801 N. Hershey Road, Bloomington.

“We want to build this family of employees that take ownership in this restaurant,” Dobski said. “It’s that whole entire experience. Not just the menu and the food, which is critical to it. But also the service, the friendliness, the cleanliness of it, the whole ambience of it, the whole experience that the whole team provides for our customers.”

The menu will serve steaks, pasta, salads, appetizers, and a variety of other meals. Dobski said they will focus on high-quality steak and seafood since he feels that’s what the local restaurant scene is lacking.

Rob Dob’s is a nearly $3 million project that will open on the east side of Bloomington. It will feature a 65-seat outdoor patio, three separate dining areas, and a separate bar area in an effort to create a space “where you can sit there, relax and enjoy your food, and have a conversation without yelling and trying to hear each other over it,” says Dobski.

You can also listen to the full interview:

WGLT's full interview with Bob Dobski.

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WGLT News Director Charlie Schlenker grew up in Rock Island and graduated from Augustana College. He has spent more than three decades in radio.
Amina Jinadu is a social media and online writing intern at WGLT and a student at Illinois State University's School of Communication. She began working at WGLT in summer 2019.