A new restaurant called E.J. Wills GastroPub is opening in North Dallas with a motto, "where friend and flavor come together." Targeted opening is sometime in October.
The restaurant will going into the space at 18208 Preston Rd., at the corner of Frankford Road, that was previously Ruggeri's Italian Kitchen and, before that, casual Italian restaurant Pazzo.
The menu has an amenable assortment of items, from salads such as Caesar, chop, and strawberry spinach with goat cheese to clam chowder to burgers, fried chicken, rib-eye, pork chop, and flatbread pizzas.
There's a full bar with cocktails and a few key local beers on tap, including McKinney's Tupps Brewery. There is also brunch with omelets, French toast, crab Benedict, oatmeal, and biscuits with sausage gravy.
Owners Greg Booth and Doug Williams met when they worked together at HMSHost, the food and beverage company that coordinates concessionaires at more than 100 airports around the world. They bring different skills sets from their experience working with celebrity chefs and a plethora of restaurants in the HMS Host portfolio.
"We hope those complementary skills give us some additional understanding about what we're doing," Booth says. There are already plans underway to follow up with a second location in McKinney in late 2016.
The word gastropub means different things to different people, but at E.J.'s, it symbolizes a throwback.
"In addition to that whole neighborhood feel of a pub, it's getting back to the basics of scratch cooking," Booth says. They also strive to distinguish themselves by giving basics a little twist.
"We did a lot of work coming up with grind for our burger, and our flatbreads use a focaccia base — that's an interesting variation," he says. "We have chicken and waffles and Southern fried chicken, which we brine before frying. If you go up and down the menu, you'll see it."