Chefs Josh and Abbey-Jo Eans have big plans for Happy Gillis

The flank steak sandwich at Happy Gillis.

The flank steak sandwich at Happy Gillis.

You may think you’re committed to your favorite sandwich shop, but you’ve got nothing on chef Josh Eans and his wife Abbey-Jo. The two chefs, and parents to three children, will move into the space above Happy Gillis (549 Gillis Street) in the beginning of December after purchasing the Columbus Park sandwich shop from Todd Schulte.

“We’re taking it over because we like it for what it is,” Eans says. “We’re just going to try and take this good thing and improve on it here and there.”

Eans and Schulte were talking before the Chef’s Classic dinner at The American in June when Schulte mentioned that he was considering selling Happy Gillis. Eans saw it as an opportunity to stay in the restaurant business and see his children at night. Happy Gillis, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this March, is open for breakfast and lunch only.

“I think everyone thought we were going to open some sort of beer and pork place,” Eans says. “It’s not the restaurant even I thought we were going to open, but it makes sense because we can put our family first.”

The couple officially takes over the restaurant on December 16. Eans, a founding partner in Blanc Burgers + Bottles who was most recently cooking at The American, wants to reassure the regulars that the staples of the shop will remain. The Cello-esque BLT (named for a regular) — a BLT served with two over-medium eggs — and the biscuits and gravy are two he named as definite keepers. While he intends to add new dishes to the menu going forward and take over the daily soup creation, Eans will immediately look to source more of his ingredients from local farmers and producers. The pork and beer component could come in the form of monthly beer dinners.

The business also comes with an adjacent retail space where Schulte sold soups under the Uncommon Stock brand. [Schulte and his wife Tracy Zinn will continue to own and operate their other restaurant, Genessee Royale Bistro, in the West Bottoms]. Eans is considering opening a small neighborhood bakery in the retail space, where customers could grab pastries and breads baked by Abbey-Jo. He’s also thinking the space could work as a charcuterie shop or pickling and canning station.

“We want to keep what’s good about Happy Gillis good,” Eans says. “And then, not to use an Emeril term, just kick it up a notch.”

Jonathan Bender

Jonathan Bender is the founder of The Recommended Daily.

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