JOLIET, IL — Deep-fried green beans as a starter. Avocado fries as sides. Caprese flatbread loaded with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil. A chicken and waffle sandwich. A grouper Reuben served with grilled grouper, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut on rye bread, served with coleslaw.

And,”a Thayer’s favorite” called The Jordan, a deep-fried country chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, reads the lunchtime menu at Magpie’s Joy of Eating.

Around Joliet, the late Gordie Gillespie was regarded as the winningest coach to ever come out of the self-proclaimed City of the Champions. Now, his daughter, Meg, has returned to Joliet, after 14 years in Clearwater, Florida as a private chef. Wednesday marked the official passing of the torch from the now-closed Thayer Bros. Deli, as Meg Gillespie opened her new sit-down restaurant, Magpie’s Joy of Eating, at 753 1/2 Ruby Street.

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Meg Gillespie assured Joliet Patch during Wednesday’s interview that she envisions Magpie’s Joy of Eating will become known as one of the absolute finest restaurants — not just for Joliet, but for the entire Will County region.

Gillespie retained the Thayer Bros. Deli kitchen staff, including Kymn Donnelly, who was the manager at Thayer’s. Kymn has stayed as one of the servers.

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“Her food is fantastic,” Kymn said of Meg Gillespie’s cooking. “Everything is homemade and the soups are all homemade, including the original Thayer’s chicken noodle soup.”

Kymn said the first day went incredibly smoothly. “The staff is so friendly, and we’re going to do a fantastic job for anyone who walks through that front door.”

3 Different Daily Soups

Magpie’s Joy of Eating will feature three different soups every single day. One will be a vegetarian offering. Another will be the chef’s choice, and the third will be one of the late Anna Mae “Ann” Thayer’s soups, Gillespie explained.

Most often, that will be Mrs. Thayer’s chicken noodle or her chicken dumpling recipe.

“It’s been lovely. The regulars (from Thayer Bros. Deli) are just so happy that we’re open,” Gillespie said. “Our team has just done unbelievable. I kept Rick (Thayer’s) team in the kitchen and I hired my niece, Ellen, she used to be at Truth Restaurant.”

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Counting herself, Gillespie said she has a total of four relatives working at her new Joliet restaurant in the city’s Cathedral Area.

Dinner Menu Begins Next Week, Plus Sunday Brunch

Gillespie said that Magpie’s Joy of Eating will offer fresh baked breads daily.

The lunch menu includes a cup of soup, a soup trio, a bowl of soup and a quart soup. And there’s gumbalaya featuring chicken, Andouille sausage and shrimp, with white rice and corned bread.

As for her recommendations, “Definitely the soups or the soup trio,” she said. “I think they will be blown away by that. For lunch, our chicken and waffle sandwich is to die for, and we will also be having that for our Sunday brunch.”

This first week, Magpie’s Joy of Eating is only serving lunch, it’s open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Next week, Gillespie will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and the first dinners will be served starting Thursday, Jan. 18.

Dinner will always be 5 to 9 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Then come Jan. 21, Magpie’s will roll out its first Sunday brunch offering from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and that will be in the Thirty Buck sports bar and inside her restaurant.

The Sunday brunch will be a permanent fixture for Magpie’s, and the restaurant will be open all seven days a week, unlike Thayer’s, which was always closed on Sundays.

Gillespie also wants everyone to know that Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, food will be served from roughly 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Thirty Buck sports bar and that food will include “a lunch/pub menu.”

For all future dine-in guests, Gillespie urges them to consider ordering her grouper Reuben.

“I couldn’t leave my grouper in Florida; I needed to bring it to Illinois,” she said. “And we kept the country fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, The Jordan. We’ve got avocado fries that are amazing. The fresh deep-fried green beans, it’s wonderful.”

Thirty Buck Will Be Renamed Gordie’s Pub

In addition to owning Magpie’s Joy of Eating, Gillespie has taken over management of the adjoining bar, Thirty Buck, from long-time business partners Eric Beltzhoover and Rick Thayer. Thirty Buck, like Thayer’s deli, has been part of Joliet for over 30 years on Ruby Street.

“Rick and Eric have been given me the opportunity to take the business to the next level within our community, and I was blessed by them. I really want to give them kudos. I need to tip my hat to them in the spirit of my dad and the spirit of Joliet,” Gillespie remarked.

In the future, she plans to rename it Gordie’s Pub, in honor of her father’s legacy. Besides herself, Terri Michener is her business partner in operating Thirty Buck sports bar.

“Gordie’s Pub, we are going to continue to be a sports bar,” she said. “We are all about the community.”

As for her new customers, “they are going to say we gave them an amazing variety, our dinner menu will include vegan and vegetarian and everything is fresh and made to order. Nothing is processed. We make everything here.”

In the coming days, Magpie’s Joy of Eating will be offering wines from Joliet’s nearby Bishop’s Hill Winery. All of her green vegetables and herbs come from Second City Greens in Lockport. In addition, Ashley Searing who runs RejuveNate on Route 30, a plant and wellness business, will be providing fresh herbs and plants for Magpie’s.

Although her dinner menu has not been publicly released yet, Gillespie said one of her dishes will include a veal saltimbocca. Another dinner meal will be the risotto.

“We’re also having great pastas,” Gillespie proclaimed.

The plated Sunday brunches will include Eggs Benedict as well as a vegetarian skillet. “There’s going to be a fried rice breakfast skillet, it’s amazing,” she added.

All of her desserts are made by Kay’s Kreations, which is run by Kay Condon, a longtime Joliet family friend of the Gillespies.

“Her baking is outrageous, we’re going to have cheesecakes and just great sweets, and she’ll be taking care of our sweets for brunches as well,” Gillespie noted.

Gillespie and her staff strongly suggested that people call ahead for lunch and dinner reservations. In the coming weeks, there will be online ordering and delivery service. The phone number for ordering takeout and making reservations at Magpie’s is 815-726-8990.

Why The Name Magpie’s?

So why did Gillespie name her new Joliet restaurant Magpie’s Joy of Eating?

“My dad called me magpie,” she explained. “My dad said I came out talking, and I have not shut up ever since.”

All of her Ruby Street restaurant logos have magpies because two magpies mean joy and prosperity.

“I’m about the joy of eating, everybody here today, they found joy and that’s my goal. And I want everybody, when they leave here, they know that they have found joy.”

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