Local Business

Owner looks to revive Two Tails, Java Planet

WOODSTOCK – Wendy Giles had been a server, then a manager, then, just three years since her association with Two Tails Market and Eatery began, she had a choice: go all in or watch the restaurant fold.

“The opportunity came, and if I didn’t take the opportunity, they were going to shut the doors,” Giles said.

With Larry O’Connor Sr. and Larry O’Connor Jr. – who run the quickly growing Other World Computing in Woodstock – deciding they could no longer keep up their side projects, Two Tails and the adjoining coffee shop Java Planet, Giles bought in. Now nearly a year since she took ownership, she’s pushing against a still-slumping economy to get the two businesses moving in the right direction.

On one side of the Woodstock space off Route 14, Two Tails exists as a prime meats and seafood market trying to gain steam as a restaurant. On the other side, Java Planet sells coffee drinks, bagels and panini sandwiches. The two businesses are separated by a thin hallway.

Both are run by Giles, an energetic woman who, by her own admittance, struggles to sit still.

“She is a very dynamic person,” O’Connor Sr. said. “She just makes things happen.”

But neither O’Connor Sr. nor Giles say that the task at hand – finding a place for businesses whose identities have evolved through the years – will be easy.

O’Connor Sr. and his son first opened Two Tails – which was then known as “All Seafood” – in the early 2000s. Big seafood fans themselves, the two at first ran the business as an Internet retailer of fresh, high-quality seafood, an easy complement to their burgeoning computer hardware and software company, O’Connor Sr. said.

The company was built on the ease of shipment.

“Basically, if it has fins and gills and is legal, we can ship it from anywhere in the world in 24 hours,” O’Connor Sr. said.

The fish came in and went right back out. But eventually, local Woodstock residents wanted to pick up the product from the store.

In 2007, the O’Connors moved the market to a location with a small showroom on Route 47.

Later that year, it moved to its current location at 2400 Lakeshore Drive, Woodstock, near Other World Computing.

Owners started serving hot food in the location and split their time emphasizing the market and restaurant aspects of the business.

Java Planet opened early in 2009, according to Northwest Herald archives.

Since, both businesses have faced obstacles, starting with the recession but including a challenging location that O’Connor Sr. said would benefit from a stoplight at Route 14 and Lakeshore Drive.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has included that stoplight in plans to widen Route 14. IDOT has budgeted to enter the land acquisition phase for that project in 2014, but it’s unknown when funds will become available for construction. The project originally was planned for a summer 2012 start date.

“The business wasn’t going too bad, and things kind of slowed down with the recession and what happened for awhile,” O’Connor Sr. said. “But we saw it as having great possibilities.”

“The business wasn’t going too bad, and things kind of slowed down with the recession and what happened for awhile,” O’Connor Sr. said. “But we saw it as having great possibilities.”

Giles sees the same.

“The food is incredible,” she said of Two Tails. “One of the worst things about us is that we’re known as the best kept secret in Woodstock. And I don’t want to be the secret anymore. I want to be the object everybody’s talking about.”

Currently the restaurant is open for lunch only on Monday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, they stay open until 9 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively, and the market has some expanded hours.

Java Planet is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Both businesses are closed on Sundays.

“If I get more than like five people, six people, I could stay open later on Thursdays,” Giles said. “If the economy blooms a lot and we’re making money, and you can go out more, then we could do Monday and Tuesday. But right now, it’s just not logical.”

Giles is working toward the increases in volume that would make those changes possible. She’s hosting events such as book signings and “Paint and Sip” nights at the coffee shop, and is constantly looking for ways to bring attention to her stores. She also has a vision to put a drive-through on Java Planet.

She said she knew what she was getting into when she decided to take on the two projects, but she remains optimistic about their future.

“I think, realistically, if it stays the way it is right now, we’re making a profit so I’m doing good,” she said. “My customers ask me how I’m doing and I’m like, ‘My head is above the water.’ I’m not taking home a salary, but that’s OK with me because I love what I’m doing.”


Two Tails Market and Eatery

What: Seafood, meat market and restaurant

Where: 2400 Lakeshore Drive, Woodstock

Contact: 815-337-4028 or www.twotailsmarket.com

Java Planet

What: coffee and Internet cafe

Where: 2400 Lakeshore Drive, Woodstock

Contact: 815-338-4751 or www.javaplanetcoffee.com

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