WOODSTOCK – The historic Woodstock Square is home to shops and restaurants all adorably kitschy and run with a sense of small-town pride, unique in their own way.
Behind every local business there is a story, and Laura and Jim Powell want to tell theirs through good food and good company.
In March, the Powells became first-time restaurant owners and operators of Off the Rails, a restaurant located in their hometown of Woodstock, on the historic Square across from the Woodstock Theatre.
A few years ago, Jim Powell found himself out of work after a long career in the construction industry. He also found that there was a need for a family-friendly restaurant in Woodstock – a place where families could come and eat well without breaking the bank.
An opportunity arose and without an ounce of restaurant or business ownership experience between them, the Powells fearlessly took on the new venture with a naming convention that speaks volumes.
“We figured you’d have to be a little ‘off the rails’ to do what we’re doing,” Jim Powell said.
Offering Italian-American cuisine crafted by chef Eric Miller, Off the Rails gives Woodstock residents and visitors yet another excuse to visit the Square.
“We wanted to provide a service to the people and place we call home,” Laura Powell said. “This is the town we love and we want to be able to give people a decent option for these tighter times.”
Jim Powell said their intention is to have a community-driven restaurant hiring local people and providing a location he hopes residents will choose as a regular meeting spot.
Dating to the 1800s, the building has a rich decor with exposed brick, a tin ceiling, wood floors and an original counter from the 1890s. Train memorabilia is featured throughout as an homage to the station less than 500 feet away.
The menu includes aptly named sections such as The Dining Car, Extra Baggage and The Caboose, with offerings such as classic bruschetta, Tuscan tomato soup and chicken limone. Burgers, wraps, steak and pizza are available as well as a Junior Conductors section for the kids.
“We believe in quality and excellence,” Jim Powell said. “No matter what industry you’re in, if you bring that, people will respond.”
Off the Rails can be enjoyed via dine-in, take-out or delivery. The restaurant includes a full-service bar and banquet rooms available for booking.
Off the Rails is open for business and there are plans for an official grand opening in May. Until then, the Powells are encouraging customers to come in and become one of their regulars.
“Come in and eat before we both starve,” Jim Powell said.
Off the Rails
228 Main St. Woodstock, IL 60098
Monday - Closed
Tuesday - Thursday 11:30 - 9:00
Friday - Saturday - 11:30 - 10:00
Sunday 11:30 - 9:00