Celebrating 10 years of helping to transform the once desolate River North neighborhood into one of the most celebrated entertainment districts in the country with concepts like Rockit Bar & Grill (all-American comfort food), The Underground (elevated nightlife and mixology) and Sunda New Asian (innovative Asian cuisine), Rockit Ranch Productions announces the opening of its newest River North concept: Dragon Ranch Moonshine & BBQ. With American BBQ complemented by Asian influences, plus an extensive cocktail list with a specialty moonshine collection, Dragon Ranch offers a unique perspective on the classic BBQ experience.
Billy Dec is an Emmy Award Winning Entertainment TV Personality and CEO/Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions, Chicago’s premier hospitality & entertainment development company, specializing in the creation, marketing and management of some of the city’s top venues including Rockit Bar & Grill, The Underground, Rockit Wrigley and Sunda New Asian. Most recently, Dec was chosen to be the Entertainment Contributor on ABC TV’s new show “Windy City Live” replacing the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Dec’s educational background includes the University of Illinois, Chicago-Kent College of Law & the Harvard Business School. He has received numerous awards including “Excellence in Business Award” from the State of Illinois, the Asian American Hall of Fame Award, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Community Leadership Award and Chicago-Kent College of Law Alumni Professional Achievement Award. Dec is also actively involved in philanthropic organizations like Make a Wish, Best Buddies, Lookingglass Theatre…And formerly served as the Director of Cultural Relations for the 2016 Olympic Committee.Dec writes his own blog http://www.aChicagoThing.com about Chicago and its culturally rich entertainment landscape, where his contact info, press pages & upcoming events calendar are also posted, along with access to his heavily followed Twitter and Facebook.
Brad Young is Chairman/Founder of Rockit Ranch Productions, Chicago’s premier restaurant and entertainment development company, specializing in the creation, marketing and management of some of the city’s top venues including the New Asian restaurant Sunda, as well as the The Underground and the ever-popular Rockit Bar & Grill (with locations in River North and Wrigleyville).
After a successful career in investment banking, Brad Young decided to pursue a lifelong passion of his by entering the hospitality industry in 1998 where he began his long-term association with Billy Dec, his current and ongoing business partner. Young and his partners began raising the bar of Chicago’s nightlife entertainment industry and helped establish nightclub trends in other venues across Chicago. Financially, Young guides Rockit Ranch Productions on a steady path with a secure vision of reaching set goals and surpassing expectations. By continuing to bring cutting edge concepts to Chicago and leading his operational teams with a keen sense of marketing, Young continues to impact the entertainment and restaurant industry. With partners Gomez and Dec, Young was presented with the “Operator of the Year” Award at The Nightclub and Bar Convention in 2008.
Arturo Gomez brings years of experience to Chicago’s restaurant and nightclub industry. Beginning his career in 1998 as director of operations for a large Chicago nightlife company where he established his long-time association with Billy Dec and Brad Young, Gomez maintained all on-premise operating percentages at optimum levels, increased yearly sales and exceeded company benchmarks through the development of strategic operational programs. As a complement to his operations role, Gomez has also been involved in opening and marketing some of Chicago’s most famous nightlife establishments, acting as hands-on design and construction manager of key venues in the city.
In July 2002, Gomez joined the entertainment development company Rockit Ranch Productions (started by partners Dec and Young) as director of operations. Specializing in integrated marketing, promotions and restaurant/nightclub operations and management, he led all aspects of operations and marketing, working in conjunction with Dec and Young. Six months after joining the Rockit Ranch Productions team, his involvement with the promotions and operations of Le Passage led to its recognition as one of the top venues in Chicago, which was subsequently reflected in numerous editorial reviews and awards.Gomez was appointed chief operating officer and partner of Rockit Ranch Productions in 2004. During that year, he managed and oversaw ten million dollars of construction budgets in the process of developing Rockit Bar & Grill in Chicago and The Park Sports Club and Tequila Ranch, located in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Rockit Bar & Grill became an instant sensation, popular for its rock and roll atmosphere and delicious menu of eclectic American cuisine. In December 2006 Gomez opened the much-anticipated nightclub concept The Underground, which was quickly recognized for its unsurpassed service and commitment to its customers. Essentially one large VIP room where every guest receives star treatment, the club quickly became a high profile destination for celebrities and Chicago’s nightclub elite alike.In 2006 and 2007, Gomez, along with partners Billy Dec and Brad Young, was asked to speak at The Nightclub and Bar Convention in Las Vegas as an industry expert. In 2008 he was selected as a keynote speaker on how marketing and operations, when jointly executed, empower a brand beyond measure. With partners Dec and Young, Gomez were presented with the “Operator of the Year” Award at the convention in 2008. Additional honors include being selected by Chicago Social magazine as one of eight “Men on Fire” in May 2006, an accolade that recognized Gomez’s unique representation and individualistic style, and he was recently named one of Chicago Now’s “11 People to Watch in 2011.”
In March 2009 Rockit Ranch opened Sunda, a New Asian restaurant serving contemporary interpretations of traditional dishes from Japan, China and the Southeast Asian Island region. Designed by internationally renowned restaurant and hotel designer Tony Chi, the restaurant garnered three-star (“Excellent”) reviews from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune. Two months later the company expanded even further, opening another Rockit Bar & Grill on the North Side in Wrigleyville. Serving the same delicious cuisine as the downtown location for brunch and dinner, the new outpost is a welcome addition to an area traditionally known for its sports bars, providing a family-friendly dining destination.
Gomez’s operational and marketing expertise, industry knowledge and hard work have made him one of the most respected professionals in Chicago’s highly competitive restaurant and nightclub world. Always at the forefront of highly profitable business partnerships and employee relations, Gomez’s successful leadership style is extremely well-respected and his effect on customers is matched with a business sense that has placed his projects at the top of the very short list of consumer and media favorites.
Born and raised in Chicago, Chef Shaun Connolly established his culinary roots at the tender age of 12, when he purchased his very own smoker from a garage sale. With a mother who loved to cook and a grandmother who maintained her own garden, it’s no wonder he was drawn to food.
Starting off as a busser, in a BBQ restaurant no less, Shaun learned the ins and outs of the restaurant business, fascinated by the fast paced environment of the kitchen and eager to learn at every opportunity.
After earning a culinary arts degree from Kendall College, Chef Shaun built an impressive resume, working at such Chicago standouts as Le Lan, Moto, Nightwood, Otom and Terragusto. He also spent time as a sous chef at Chapter One, an internationally renowned two-star Michelin rated restaurant in Dublin, Ireland.
With 15 years in the business, Shaun brings vast knowledge and skills to his newest role at Dragon Ranch Moonshine & BBQ, Rockit Ranch’s latest concept, a first-of-its-kind venue, specializing in American BBQ with unexpected, yet complementary Asian elements. He is driven to create the best product possible and thrilled to be part of such a passionate, innovative team.