Family prepares for Wagon Wheel Express re-opening

Staff writer

For many months Sherry Hess and her husband, Keith, have been getting the same question repeatedly, “When are you going to be open?”

Residents anxiously awaiting the re-opening of the family’s restaurant, Wagon Wheel Express, will only have to wait a few days longer until they can return to their favorite eatery. After months of remodeling, the restaurant will be open for business by the end of the week.

“We’re shooting for Thursday but we’ll definitely be open Friday if we just can’t get things in order by Thursday,” she said. “We’re just as anxious as customers to be back open.”

The restaurant was closed last fall to undergo an expansion that doubled the restaurant’s kitchen area and added room for 10 additional people to eat in the dining room. However, the expanded kitchen is not the only new thing to be added to the restaurant.

“We’ve replaced almost everything,” Hess said. “It’s all shiny and new.”

Lunch specials like lasagna or fried chicken will be available daily, and dinner specials such as steaks and pork chops will also be served. Cappuccinos will also be a new menu item.

“We can do so much more now that we have the space,” she said. “We’ve not just doubled the size of our kitchen, but we’ve also doubled our cooking capacity and arranged things to help them flow better so that will hopefully help us get food out quicker.”

Eventually Hess said there will be a dinner salad bar available.

“Not at first, but after we get settled and figure things out, I plan on baking all of our bread and desserts,” she said. “Baking is my favorite so I’m exited we finally can do that where before we didn’t have the room too.”

Before the remodel began, heavy rains flooded the restaurant causing electrical and other issues.

“There was water everywhere,” she said. “After that it was one thing after another.”

She said that while the remodeling process has been slow, she is thankful for the extra time it has given them to really think about how to lay out the restaurant to make things more efficient.

“We had time to see how things would work if we laid it out one way or another and found things that really worked and things that we thought would work and really didn’t,” she said. “I’m pleased with how it came together it’s turned out really well.”

In keeping with the barn style, siding designed to look like barn wood covers the walls in the dining room, and the woodwork is stained red. The east door was removed to eliminate the danger of customers walking in and out of the drive through area. Guests eating at the restaurant will enter through new door on the west side of the restaurant.

“We really worked on creating an efficient flow through the building,” Hess said. “We’re so busy at lunch and we were always stepping on each other’s toes and there were many things placed where it would slow everything down. When we prepped for lunch we had to have everything done before or there was no space to prep; now we have moved that into the new addition so there’s nothing in the way.”

She and Keith Hess have been practicing cooking on their new appliances all week to prepare for the opening.

“It’ll be rough at first to re-familiarize ourselves to being back in the kitchen and where everything is at,” she said. “It’ll be slow until we develop new habits.”

Keith Hess said he is excited to go to work every day because of the remodel.

“It’s so much more fun to go to work when things are new,” he said. “It’s like getting a new car.”

Sherry Hess said she is most excited about seeing all their customers again.

“They get to be like family because you see some of them every day,” she said. “I’ve missed seeing all of them.”

Because of spring break, the Hesses’ five daughters and Sherry’s parents will help with the grand opening.

“When you own a restaurant it consumes your life, but when we do it as a family well at least we’re all consumed together,” Sherry Hess said.

The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed Sundays.

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