Family takes on Epic task
JOHNSBURG – When the Wildey sons went to find a profession in the culinary arts, the family thought about the time it would be able to open its own restaurant.
That time came this summer when Epic Deli opened at 3312 Chapel Hill Road in Johnsburg.
The deli is run by chefs Andy and Tyler Wildey along with their parents, Alex and Jeannine Wildey. And with plenty of restaurant experience in their background, the family is working to make the deli a notch above its competition.
“We have an item on the menu called Tyler’s Favorite – it’s a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried hot dog topped with pulled pork and cole slaw,” Andy Wildey said.
“Ultimately, we’re trying to bring something totally unique to the area, things you’d find in a gourmet sandwich shop downtown that you can’t find anywhere in McHenry County. And we’re bringing some of our culinary background to it.”
Andy and Tyler both have experience running restaurants, with Andy the former executive chef at DC Cobbs in Woodstock. But this is the first time that the family has owned its own place.
“That has been a family passion for all of us,” Andy Wildey said. “My brother and I are professionals, but we learned from our parents. [Owning a family restaurant] has pretty much always been the plan.”
It wasn’t destined to be a deli, though.
That happened by chance, when the 7 Days Market in the old Raymond’s Bowl building came available. Andy Wildey said having grown up in Johnsburg, he and his brother wanted to bring their vision back home.
“We definitely wanted to keep it local, to be able to bring something to the community that we grew up in,” he said.
“It’s got a lot of history. It’s right on the water, it’s a beautiful spot. It’s pretty centrally located in town, and it’s just outside of McHenry, near the drive-in. So there’s a ton of perks to the spot.”
Wildey said when the family bought the restaurant, it made sense to keep it a deli, with all the equipment already in place. That means the menu is centers on sub sandwiches, paninis, and hot dogs, along with homemade cheesecakes and a variety of hand-dipped shakes.
“We offer all kinds of stuff,” he said. “We sell a lot of Doritowiches, which are ham and cheese sandwiches with Doritos, mayo, lettuce and tomato.”
The deli seats just more than 50, with nine workers on staff. The Wildey family is working hard to get the word out through its Facebook page, as well.
“We’re very heavily involved in our Facebook page, and we get a ton of feedback from our Facebook fans,” Andy Wildey said.
“We randomly pick one of our Facebook fans, and they get a free sandwich.
“We run new specials every week, and we hear all week long what’s great about them and what they didn’t like.”
And so far, he said, the community response had been strong.
“It’s a very family-friendly environment; the whole experience is more about learning to enjoy food in a totally different way,” he said. “Everybody in town loves it. We have probably 40 percent of our customers here at least three times a week.”