By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – It’s come full circle for a longtime local auto-repair business.
Ricotta’s Automotive returned to its original home at 325 Walnut St. downtown last year. That’s where the business opened more than 40 years ago. The business relocated to Loves Park near Rockford Speedway in 2008 as part of an expansion plan that turned the downtown location into an overflow shop and storage facility.
In 2017, owner Tom Ricotta, who started the business in 1975 with younger brother Joe, sold the Loves Park shop; a move back downtown was the most sensible for the lifelong Rockfordians.
“We really want to contribute to the rejuvenation of downtown Rockford,” Tom Ricotta said.
And while the homecoming of sorts leaves Ricotta’s with a smaller shop, it’s just what Tom says the business needs to move into its next chapter. Known around the country as “The Corvette Specialists,” the Ricottas have no difficulties being leading experts in electrical work and classic-car repair in a six-bay shop in the heart of downtown Rockford. It’s been called home in the past and will be in the future.
“We were a big part of downtown for many years, and all our customers knew where we were for nearly half a century,” Ricotta added. “We saw the growth and excitement with City Market, the IceHogs, the Coronado, all the music, all the guests each weekend from out of town and even during the week. And we said, ‘We belong back in downtown Rockford full time,’ So, we’ve returned.”
Besides restoring Corvettes, specialty and classic cars for customers all over the United States, Ricotta’s provides full-service automotive service and repair on most domestic and some foreign vehicles.
“It seems to be going very well so far and we want to continue to be part of the rejuvenation and growth effort,” Ricotta continued. “We are lifelong residents of Rockford ourselves, and we believe in this community and its people.”
Although Tom considers himself semi-retired, he keeps regular hours. He’s joined in the garage by his two sons, Tom Jr. and Anthony. His wife, Kathy, handles the accounting. An electronics expert, Joe repairs radios and rebuilds speedometers and electrical systems.
“We’re looking forward to a good, long future and possibly another 50 years at least here in downtown Rockford,” Tom Ricotta said. “It’s where we belong. There is a real positive buzz here, and we’re proud to be a part of that.” Ricotta’s Automotive can be reached at 815-282-6700 and on Facebook.