Are you looking for a dining experience that will make you say, “that food was incredible?” How about a meal that encapsulates the authenticity of hand-crafted, homemade, versatile recipes that embody distinctive flavors? If so, you are in luck. Spend your evening munching on mouthwatering tacos that will set your palate on ‘fire’ at Fire it Up TacoFusion Grill.
Minutes away from the Route 59 Metra station, Fire it Up, began as a food truck and has grown into a dine-in or take-out restaurant. Featuring taco varieties such as BBQ pork, southwest chicken, or portabella mushroom, to name a few, Fire it Up has taken the taco experience to the next level.
Aside from their many taco options, Fire it Up offers appetizing starters such as guac and chips, shrimp wontans, and more. Enjoy your meal with local craft beers, including Two Brothers and Solemn Oath, along with premium wines, for a complete dining experience. I had the pleasure of talking with owners, Rick and Julie VanBuren for more information on their exceptional restaurant.
What is your background in the restaurant industry?
Rick VanBuren is an 18+ year veteran restaurant enthusiast with strong contacts within multiple industries including restaurants, bars, food suppliers, beverage suppliers, municipal offices, restaurant service & repair and promotions. Rick’s strong desire to successfully develop a high-energy restaurant experience with fantastic food and beverage has been one of his greatest wishes in life.
Julie VanBuren is an established Marketing and Licensing expert with 13+ years of experience across multiple leading brands and includes top experience in strategy, licensed property identification, planning & analysis, procurement, partner relationship development, partner management, trend tracking and industry reporting.
When did you open your food truck?
The Fire It Up concept was introduced to the Chicagoland area in Spring 2011. Inspired by the popularity of the food truck craze combined with a passion to create great food, Rick VanBuren and Julie VanBuren invested in a BIG RED food truck. BIG RED was based out of Bolingbrook, Illinois and served unique eats such as homemade green chili cheeseburgers, fresh shrimp n’ slaw tacos with a signature lemon aioli and of course the staple Gringo taco with a fresh tomato salsa. The name “Fire It Up” was derived from the often-stated phrase “Let’s go fire up the truck; let’s fire it up!”
During the first off-season (winter 2011) of the food truck, a deeper dive was taken into the food system. Passion and purpose became obvious. Continuing the passion for homemade foods, some simple changes needed to be incorporated such as sourcing meats through gmo-free farms and buying locally grown organic produce. It’s all about knowing what’s in your food!
A streamlined identity was also implemented and the taco shell served as the vehicle to deliver just that! Many unique taco creations were developed and tested on that truck.
In 2012, the second season of the food truck was launched with the belief as being “Fresh with an Edge”. The high-energy rock music being played off the truck coupled with the trendy streamlined approach of TacoFusion, gave Fire It Up its edge.
What made you decide to open a restaurant?
Rick has always wanted to own his own restaurant (the food truck served as an “affordable” way to begin.) BUT, the true passion behind opening the restaurant is to give people an affordable option of cleaner eating and to educate them on what they are putting into their bodies. We truly are joyed to see people eat quality food and have fun doing it in a comfortable, friendly, fun environment. Forget all your worries and create good memories with the ones you enjoy being with. This is what we want to provide to everyone!
When did you open the restaurant?
We softly opened the restaurant on September 29th 2013 and had our Grand Opening in January, 2014
What were your aspirations for Fire it Up when you opened it?
Fire It Up keeps it real with a TacoFusion experience combined with a high-energy environment. Our focus is on quality, including, grass fed beef, Berkshire Pork, organic chicken and organic produce locally sourced whenever possible. We truly believe that each person’s well-being can be improved through clean food and fun!
Providing quality food is our top priority. We offer a simple menu but strive to execute it perfectly! We want to pack the place with a fun and energetic (rock music) environment. We pride ourselves as being “Fresh with an Edge”
How did you decide/pick your chef?
All of the menu items were created while we owned the truck. We hired a chef that has a passion for quality fresh food, great attention to detail/plating and one who could be creative as well to help come up with additional featured specials at Fire It Up. Ultimately, we chose Chef Quezon who has a strong passion for our food and business, an impeccable palate/taste and a stand-up Chef.
Can you give us the history of the delicious Brownie chimichangas?
The mini brownie chimichangas came about from an idea to make a mini wonton wrapped homemade cheesecake dessert. Although the flavors turned out great the filling was too loose after frying and basically shot out the side of the wonton. We loved the idea of the mini bite sized dessert so we made the transition to scratch made brownie chimichangas with chocolate sauce.
How do you decide what craft beers to carry?
We picked our craft beer selection by staying true to our focus on local and organic. We built a relationship with Solemn Oath Brewery, located in Naperville, while operating the food truck and made them our first choice for craft beer. Two brothers was an obvious second choice for great local craft beer being based in Warrenville and Aurora.
We have one spirit that we carry for our Margaritas and Bloody Marias. Tailwinds Agave spirit (unofficially Tequila) distilled locally in Plainfield.
What makes Fire it Up different from other restaurants?
Focusing on fresh organic food and sourcing locally, we believe makes us unique in the suburbs (typically these venues are found in the city.) All of our sauces are completely homemade so we know for sure what is going into your food! Fire It Up differs from other restaurants by providing customers with approachable homemade unique food with a focus on local and organic. We always have current and classic and alternative rock streaming through the sound system. The décor is industrial and modern with some definite food truck accents.
We are completely accommodating whether you are vegetarian, gluten-free, want 1 taco, or 12 tacos. We are open to accommodating everyone to our fullest potential.
Not only do we serve gourmet tacos but we have some delicious full organic salads, awesome appetizers and great sides such as Quinoa and parmesan herb chips….oh and of dessert…homemade mini brownie chimichangas (even the hot sauce is homemade straight from our kitchen.)
We have specials (lunch and dinner) everyday and a DELICIOUS SUNDAY BRUNCH made with farm fresh eggs straight from our farmer!
Online ordering is also available at www.fireituptacos.com
Why did you pick Naperville as the location?
We chose Naperville based on distinct demographics and a real sense of community. Many of our already existing customers from the food truck, naturally became sources for the brick and mortar restaurant. i.e. We used to bring the food truck over to Solemn Oath for dinner and now they are an important craft beer vendor for us at the restaurant. Same with Tailwinds Distilling. Same with Supreme Lobster, etc. All of these companies were a customer at one time and now we are their customer.
What do you like most about Naperville?
We love the tight community and support that Naperville offers and we already had a strong base of customers in Naperville from events that we did with the food truck at the Naperville Wine Festival and the 1st annual Southwest Fest.
Do you work with other businesses in Naperville?
Yes! Absolutely. As many as we can. From neighboring businesses to our most important vendors (as mentioned above Solemn Oath, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Chamber of Commerce, etc!
What can you offer to the Naperville community thru Fire it Up?
Quality of Life!
Location & Phone
- 572 Weston Ridge Dr. – Naperville, IL 60563
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesday – Saturday: 11am – 10pm
- Sunday: 11am – 9pm
This article was contributed by Your Naperville community member, Kavita Jaswal.