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Meet Greg and Joy Booth of E.J. Wills Gastropub in North Dallas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Greg and Joy Booth.

Greg began his career in the food and beverage industry as a teenager in Maryland, and continued to learn the trade while in college in North Carolina. After college, he worked for national chains, managing multiple units, and then advancing to manage the closing and opening of new restaurants as corporate needs dictated. He gained leadership skills in operations and quality control and quickly rose to the rank of a regional operations manager for an international concessionaire, responsible for more than 100 concepts ranging from coffee service to steak, sushi, and a variety of other cuisines.

Joy and Greg met and married in Washington D.C., where Joy had begun her nearly 20 year career in the federal government. As an Assistant Director managing evaluations of homeland security and justice programs, she works to ensure accountability and effectiveness in spending. When the pair met, Greg and Joy found a shared love for cooking and enjoyed a common dream of opening their own business. When Greg’s job took them to St Louis, he became the Director of Operations for Lambert Airport, and they had their first daughter, who is now almost 5 years old. When Joy’s job relocated the couple to Dallas in 2015, Greg assumed the same role at Dallas Fort Worth Airport and they bought a home in McKinney. That same year, their second daughter was born. As the couple began exploring their new town, they quickly identified the need for scratch cooking in a pub-style atmosphere. Thus, not too long after they welcomed their baby, the concept of E.J. Wills Gastropub was also born. Both the “E” and the “J” stand for their girls’ first names, and the Wills is a play off the strong wills both young ladies exhibit.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It mostly has! The main struggle was finding a location. We were  committed to opening in our new home town of McKinney, but finding the right space proved somewhat challenging as we began to negotiate lease term and conditions. Eventually, a realtor friend showed us a location in N. Dallas where a restaurant was vacating–presenting an opportunity to rehab an existing kitchen and test-run the concept while negotiations continued in the suburbs. Not long after E.J. Wills opened in N. Dallas, we signed a lease on new construction blocks from our home in McKinney. While we built a brand in the city, workers were constructing and designing our new location.

Please tell us about E.J. Wills Gastropub.
E.J. Wills Gastropub opened in 2016 as a locally owned, family-operated restaurant where we believe that it’s not just the chef but also the ingredients that make a dish fantastic. We use a local butcher, feature craft beer from nearly 10 Texas breweries, and have supported almost a dozen local charities through “give back” nights, raffle contributions, and in-kind donations. We also provide routine discounts for local law enforcement. Our philanthropic engagement reflects our commitment to the community and we are proud to be active partners with organizations that advance education, safety, and prosperity in our city.

On the basis of our innovative menu, attention to detail and high quality service, and focus on making guests feel like family, we have earned a 4-plus star rating on all the major social media platforms, including Google, Trip Advisor, Facebook, and Yelp. We also have had our Garbage Burger highlighted twice in the Dallas Observer (once for “Craziest Burger in Dallas”) and also on Jack FM Radio. Additionally, the site Thrillist named our Garbage Burger #18 on “The Dallas Bucket List: 42 Things to Do Before you Die.”

In 2017, we were thrilled to win “Best Burger” on the Dallas A-List–edging out more than 40 other Dallas restaurants by popular vote. We also received an Open Table Diner’s Choice Award in April 2017 and were named “Best Bar/Pub of 2017” on the Next Door App by neighbors in 5 surrounding communities.

We offer patio seating, weekend brunch, and live music three times a week, including an open mic night to showcase local musicians. We also offer space for large parties and private events, host special events like tap take-overs, and participate in local festivals with a food tent operation. We are the official game watching site for the Texas Tech University Alumni Club of Collin County for college football and a satellite viewing location for the NFL Kansas City Chiefs Fans of Dallas.

We have broad appeal to families, those on date night, those wanting to watch games or listen live to local entertainers, and business professionals looking for a comfortable and unique lunch or happy hour spot. We are unpretentious, devoted to customer service, and absolutely committed to offering our guests locally sourced, scratch cooking at its best. We like to think of our spot as a place “where friends and flavor come together” but we also know that the concept of a gastropub is not familiar to most. As a result, we often explain our restaurant as “a place to get gourmet grub in a pub!”

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Joy: I recall fondly grocery shopping with my father early on Saturday mornings and how I learned at a young age the power of a good meal to bring people together. I also remember his Italian cooking, his search for the perfect ingredient, and the pleasure of sitting down to family meals rich with good food, lively conversation, and fantastic desserts!

Greg: I recall my time on the wrestling mat and lacrosse field where I  learned the importance of team work, individual drive, and discipline to meet personal and group goals. I also remember the time my coach spent with me to encourage skill building and strength training and the pride I felt attaining regional and state titles in my sports.

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Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Marcia Cullen

    February 20, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    I’ve been to this restaurant several times! Wonderful atmosphere..exceptional food…great people! And I’m looking forward to visiting the McKinney location when it opens!

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