Raber Packing Company celebrates reopening in West Peoria
Three years after a fire burned down Raber Packing Company, the Central Illinois institution is reopening in a new West Peoria location.
Standing in the new Raber's at 3000 W. Farmington Road, owner Henry "Buddy" Courdt says he doesn't feel excited, so much as like an immense weight is being lifted off his shoulders.
"I mean, it's just a relief to get to this point, right? Hours and hours of work that people wouldn't see or wouldn't understand about how much it takes to get here," he said.
Courdt says the journey to rebuild his family business has consumed the last three years of his life. But ending operations was never really on the table for him.
"We never really thought about not reopening," he said. "That was never really an option from the night of the fire."
Courdt says the new, expanded Raber's accomplishes what he set out to do: fill a niche in the Peoria-area meat market.
"I think the one thing that we're really wanting to achieve is this experience that you get down here, of being able to see what a thousand pounds of bacon before it's sliced," Courdt said. "And being able to provide local meats. There's nothing really like this in Central Illinois, and maybe in Illinois, in general."
The city of West Peoria extended a 20-year TIF agreement for the Raber rebuild. The new facility includes larger processing and retailing areas, including an expanded deli and catering. The business will soon also offer grab-and-go dinners.
Raber is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.