He's one of the hottest young entrepreneurs in Chicago, heading up several of the city's most popular restaurants and nightclubs. Nate talks with entertainment entrepreneur Billy Dec about his entertainment development company, Rockit Ranch Productions, and his rise to the top of Chicago's social scene.
A Chicago native, Billy says he grew up without privilege and his family often struggled for money. College was a refuge for Billy, and it was during his undergraduate years that he picked up some knowledge about running a nightclub. "The whole nightclub/restaurant/bar thing was just me beginning as a 19-year-old doorman, just to pay my way through college so that someday I could be a lawyer," he says.
After college, Billy used his knowledge of the restaurant and bar industry to open his own nightclub at age 22. In addition, he went on to get his law degree. He says everything he's accomplished was the result of hard and dedicated work, and he attributes his success to simply following the rules. "Everything that I started with is accessible to everyone else," he says.
Today, Billy owns Rockit Ranch Productions as well as several restaurants and nightclubs, many frequented by celebrities. Billy says celebrities feel so comfortable at his club Underground that they sometimes put on a free show. "Now performers and celebrities are … all of a sudden performing and asking for a microphone," he says.
While he's found success in Chicago, Billy says he doesn't have any desire to move on and create similar businesses in other hot spots around the country. He says he is invested in his community—he sits on the boards of several local arts and entertainment organizations—and has plans to open another Chicago restaurant soon. "Our whole mission is to elevate the level of entertainment and the reputation of Chicago's art and theater," he says.