Happy Jack’s restaurant marks 40 years of smiles in McHenry

McHENRY – Four decades after leaving Florida to open an ice cream and sandwich shop in McHenry, Jack Moos is still smiling.

Happy Jack’s Sandwich and Fine Ice Cream Shoppe, 4911 W. Elm St., McHenry, originally opened in 1977. It marks 40 years in business Saturday. Moos, the McHenry resident who owns the shop, moved from the Florida beaches to McHenry in the 1970s.

The shop has long been a local favorite, McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce President Kay Rial Bates said.

“Happy Jack’s is a throwback to another era – an era when you drank Coke out of a bottle,” she said. “The atmosphere is outstanding. It’s not just an ice cream when you go there, it’s a memory.”

Moos said he was a surfer who dropped out of school as a teenager. During that time, his brother, Joe, made Jack an offer to help run an ice cream shop in Illinois. Joe, a real estate investor, bought the property and Jack decided to move to McHenry and try running the restaurant with his older brother, who Jack would later buy out.

“My brother taught me a lot about business and people,” Jack Moos said. “I’m very grateful to him for giving me my start.”

Happy Jack’s serves fountain delights such as ice cream cones, sundaes, malts, shakes, floats and an old-fashioned banana split. And the shop doesn’t just have sweet treats. Happy Jack’s also offers subs, hot dogs, salads and various sides among many other menu items.

“I never thought I’d be here this long,” Moos said. “I’ve really seen this place transform, and it’s been a great experience. We’ve had a lot of great years and have had some tough years.”

Right after the store’s 25th anniversary in 2002, a man crashed his car into the ice cream shop causing extensive damage to the building. The driver was taken to the hospital, and no one was in the building during the crash. The crash ended up costing more than $175,000 in repairs, Moos said.

“There’s so much here that has transpired, but it’s been a good ride,” Moos said. “No complaints.”

Happy Jack’s has about 30 employees, including the children of some of Moos’ past employees.

General manager Gail Wells, who has been working there for almost
13 years, said it’s been great working at Happy Jack’s.

“Jack is a great boss,” Wells said. “He’s fun, he’s funny, easy-going, and we just have a real good relationship.”

Moos said what makes working at the shop special to him is the community, and he loves it when people return years later if they moved out of town and were visiting the area again.

“It warms my heart when people walk in the store and say, ‘Man, it’s just like it was when I was in high school,’ ” Moos said.

Happy Jack’s is holding a celebratory event Saturday to commemorate its 40th anniversary. To mark the occasion, hot dogs, ice cream cones and drinks will be 40 cents. The event also will feature clowns, balloons, music and raffles where attendees have the chance to win prizes such as a Coca-Cola cooler or a bicycle.

“It’s a lot of free stuff that I give away,” Moos said. “I’ve got a ton of stuff for the kids. It’s amazing.”

The event will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.


If you go

What: Happy Jack’s Sandwich and Fine Ice Cream Shoppe marks its 40th anniversary with 40-cent hot dogs, ice cream cones and drinks
When: From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: 4911 W. Elm St., McHenry

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