When Elizabeth Janus began considering opening a restaurant she had absolutely no experience in the food industry, but she knew there was a need for something different in downtown Glen Ellyn.
“The reason we were so successful, from the start we knew the local customer and knew what they wanted,” Janus said.
With her restaurant Honey Café she must have hit the mark because despite opening a restaurant during a severe recession, Janus’ restaurant will celebrate its five-year anniversary in November.
The restaurant offers an elevated form of comfort food, she said. When possible she buys local and naturally or organically/fair-trade grown products.
Though she had business experience, having owned a shop that had been located just up the street from Honey’s current location, she said it was a steep learning curve when she opened the restaurant.
“The most important thing to know is the people you work with,” she said. A strong staff is important to a well-run restaurant.
Prior to opening she worked with a chef for nine months refining the menu, she said. The menu changes several times a year based on the seasons. But, everyday diners may choose from three specials. And, homemade chicken soup is always on the menu.
Food is made from scratch daily, including the bakery goods, she said. Honey’s menu also includes vegetarian, vegan items and gluten free items.
Janus can’t really pick a favorite item off the menu because everything is so good, she said. But, she enjoys the beet salad and said the restaurant’s market platters, which allow diners to choose three sides, are a nice option to try different things.
When she was planning the restaurant, Janus said she knew she wanted Honey to be family-friendly.
“I think one of the things that is striking about Honey, at most restaurants you walk in and there’s a bar,” she said. “Here you walk in and there are coffee and cupcakes.”
The economy was challenging when she opened the restaurant and it took some time to figure out when was a good time to have more staff on hand, but she wanted the business set up so people didn’t only come in for one thing.
“We want people to come in any time,” she said.
And, they do. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and depending on the time of day, the vibe changes.
Over the years, the restaurant has been the site of many celebrations, from bridal showers to baby showers, she said. She has felt honored to be there at pivotal moments in a customer’s life.
“It is very rewarding to get to know the regulars,” she said. “Also, it’s so rewarding to be this old [of a business] and still have new customers.”
Honey is located at 499 Main St. The restaurant is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.