McKinney restaurant E.J. Wills Gastropub goes beyond food: ‘We’re about bringing the community together’

Greg and Joy Booth named their McKinney restaurant by combining their daughtersu2019 initialsu2014u201cEu201d and u201cJu201du2014and adding in a reference to their strong wills.

Greg and Joy Booth named their McKinney restaurant by combining their daughtersu2019 initialsu2014u201cEu201d and u201cJu201du2014and adding in a reference to their strong wills.

Image description
MCK_10-19_Dining-1
Joy and Greg Booth saw a gap they could help fill in the McKinney community when they began planning for E.J. Wills Gastropub. The restaurant moved to McKinney from its two-year-old Dallas location in March 2018.

“We always wanted it to be in McKinney,” Joy said. “We knew it was going to be quite a while before we could build this from the ground up, so we opened in Dallas while we were waiting.”

E.J. Wills serves the need for food that appeals to a wide array of people’s appetites, especially on the west side of McKinney, where there are fewer novel food options, Joy said. The restaurant also strives to support the neighborhood, she said.

“We’re not just about food, we’re not just about drink, but we’re about bringing the community together,” she said.

In an effort to encourage that community, E.J. Wills hosts guest bartenders every week from local organizations. The restaurant had more than 30 guest bartenders in the last year and has raised thousands of dollars, Joy said.

“They don’t really have to know anything about bartending,” she said. “They just have to want to support their charity.”

E.J. Wills hosts spirit nights for local organizations and sets up food tents at as many local festivals as possible, including a recent local food and wine festival. Trivia nights and live music are also frequently featured.

In the kitchen, changes to the menu come roughly every three months to match the food options with the season. The restaurant has recently developed a vegan menu, which is certified by the Plant Pure Community.

Written on the wall of the restaurant in large script is the motto of the E.J. Wills Gastropub: “Where friends and flavor come together.” Joy calls this message the kernel that the restaurant has grown on.

“It is really like the place where people feel comfortable,” she said. “They can come on a date night; they can bring their kids; they can bring their elderly parents; they can just come for a drink after work; they can come with their ladies, you know. Whatever they want, they can find some way to make that happen here.”

E.J. Wills Gastropub
1910 N. Stonebridge Drive, Ste. 100, McKinney
214-592-0145
www.ejwillsgastropub.com
Hours: Mon. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Tue.
11 a.m.-midnight, Thu.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2 a.m.,
Sat. 10 a.m.-2 a.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify that Greg and Joy Booth are the owners of E.J. Wills Gastropub. 
By Liesbeth Powers
Liesbeth graduated from Baylor University with a degree in new media journalism in December 2018. She gained her newspaper experience as a staff writer and multimedia editor at her campus paper, The Baylor Lariat. Liesbeth joined the Community Impact team in August 2019, where she reports on all things Plano and Richardson, including Plano City Council and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.


MOST RECENT

The uninsured rate saw gains between 2018 and 2019, as it did in Texas as a whole. (Community Impact staff)
DATA: Population, uninsured rates rising in McKinney

The uninsured rate saw gains between 2018 and 2019, as it did in Texas as a whole.

Data shows 711 new COVID-19 cases in Collin County from Sept. 18-24. (Community Impact staff)
Tracking COVID-19: 119 active cases reported in McKinney

As of Sept. 24, in McKinney there have been 2,280 confirmed total cases of COVID-19 and 2,125 recoveries, for a recovery rate of 93.2%.

The store located at The Patios at the Rail will offer a variety of Texas T-shirts, hats and gear for purchase. (Courtesy Tumbleweed TexStyles)
Tumbleweed TexStyles shop coming soon to Frisco and more DFW news

Read the latest Dallas-Fort Worth business and community news.

Gov. Greg Abbott at a press conference
Gov. Greg Abbott to allocate $171M from CARES Act to help renters at risk of eviction

Gov. Greg Abbott will allocate more than $171 million in renters assistance from the federal coronavirus relief package to eligible Texans.

Painted Tree will be divided into several districts, including the Village District, pictured here. (Rendering courtesy Oxland Advisors)
Painted Tree residential community to offer about 3,400 homes in McKinney

“With anything this size, you want to provide homes that fit different demographics, different life stages, different price points,” Oxland Advisors founder Tom Woliver said.

Harvest Hall will have seven kitchens in total as well as a bar area. (Courtesy LDWW Group)
Grapevine dining hall to host 6 new restaurants and more DFW news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Fewer substitutes have been in McKinney ISD classrooms this year so far due to COVID-19-related concerns. (Adobe Stock)
McKinney ISD sees fewer substitutes in classrooms despite increased sub pool

MISD had a subsitute pool of around 470 at the beginning of the school year, but 110 subsitutes have subbed as of Sept. 21.

Frisco confirmed two more mosquito pools had tested positive for West Nile virus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
West Nile virus found in Frisco and more popular DFW news from the week

Read popular Dallas-Fort Worth news from the past week.

Officials will consider using tax increment reinvestment zone funding to provide parking on the east side of McKinney. (Courtesy Fotolia)
McKinney examines east side parking, projects

McKinney’s historic downtown area on the west side of Hwy. 5 contains more than 2,000 parking spaces in public lots, public garages and on the street. On the east side of Hwy. 5, there are only 53 public lot parking spaces.

Gov. Greg Abbott on July 27 issued an executive order extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election. (Screenshot of Sept. 17 press conference)
Lawsuit takes aim at start date for early voting as some Texas Republicans challenge Gov. Greg Abbott's order

A group of prominent Texas Republicans has embarked on a legal effort to undo the governor's executive order that extended the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election.

The Grind Burger Bar Tap Room offers craft burgers and beer. (Courtesy The Grind Burger Bar Tap Room)
Grind Burger Bar to open in McKinney and more DFW news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Grind Burger Bar   Tap Room offers craft burgers and beer. (Courtesy The Grind Burger Bar   Tap Room)
The Grind Burger Bar + Tap Room expands with second location and concept in McKinney

This newest location will feature more Tex-Mex items, such as quesadillas and tacos.