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
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
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, including education and transportation.


Medical professionals from Baylor Scott & White Medical Center–Centennial in Frisco received a donation of masks and assorted goodies from Two Men and A Truck on April 3. (Courtesy Two Men and A Truck)
Moving company Two Men and A Truck donate face masks to Frisco, McKinney hospitals

After receiving a gift of more than 100 face masks, the North Dallas-area franchise set up a donation of 50 masks to area Baylor Scott & White hospitals.

The American Red Cross is urging people to continue donating blood to avoid any shortages during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
American Red Cross avoids near-shortage of blood donations, urges donors to keep scheduling appointments

When concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak started to rise to new levels in the nation in March, thousands of blood donors canceled appointments with the American Red Cross.

The Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Health Department has been busy assisting the district with health initiatives, such as delivering meals. (Courtesy Amy Taldo)
ROUNDUP: 5 recent stories on the DFW area’s continued coronavirus response

Read the latest coronavirus updates from communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area below.

President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion package March 27 to provide relief during the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Sen. John Cornyn discusses provisions laid out in CARES Act

The $2 trillion package provides funding to help fight the virus and to provide financial assistance for Americans during the pandemic.

Members of the Frisco Downtown Merchants Association have created a daily digital support meeting during the coronavirus pandemic. The group's members are working together to help one another stay in business. (Courtesy Ed Mahoney)
Coronavirus coverage roundup in the Dallas-Fort Worth area

Here are some noteworthy stories from the past week dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rates are increasing across the nation in the midst of COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas sees 77% increase in unemployment insurance claims during week ending March 28

Texas ranked fifth among states in the U.S. with 275,597 initial claims filed the week ending March 28.

This week, McKinney ISD district staff took protective supplies to three local hospitals in McKinney. (Courtesy McKinney ISD)
McKinney ISD Health Department donates protective supplies to local hospitals

McKinney-area hospitals received a truckload of personal protective equipment from the McKinney ISD Health Department this week.

Collin, Denton, Dallas and Tarrant counties have a higher response rate than the state of Texas as of Mach 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Census responses ahead of U.S. in Dallas-Fort Worth, growth highest in nation

Dallas-Fort Worth counties vary in self-response rates on the U.S. census as Census Day arrives April 1.

The McKinney Musician Relief Fund will assist full-time McKinney-based musicians who are without work as venues close and public gatherings are canceled due to the new coronavirus. (Courtesy McKinney Musician Relief Fund)
McKinney relief fund for musicians launches with online watch party amid coronavirus concerns

The first of what is hoped will turn into a series of concerts for the McKinney Musician Relief Fund will begin the weekend of April 3.

Texas Tribune: Some local elections in Texas moving ahead despite coronavirus spread

A handful of towns and special districts still plan to go ahead with their May 2 votes, arranging polling places despite calls from the president on down directing people to stay at home to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Lake Travis Fire Rescue is one of hundreds of emergency service districts serving millions of Texas residents across the state. Firefighters, EMTs and medical professionals said they are concerned about the availability of personal protective equipment as the coronavirus public health crisis continues. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
First responders, medical professionals across Texas worry about inadequate personal protective equipment supplies

In a survey of emergency service districts across the state, two-thirds of respondents said they were concerned about a shortage of equipment such as masks, goggles and gloves.

Roberto Garcia, a nine-year sous chef at Harvest Seasonal Kitchen and Rick’s Chophouse, helps prepare meals. (Courtesy Rick Wells)
McKinney restaurant owner merges businesses to keep afloat, help former employees

Rick Wells said laying off the majority of his employees at Harvest Seasonal Kitchen and Rick’s Chophouse in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak was one of the hardest decisions he has ever had to make.