Taking some of the best of , expanding sandwich offerings and mixing in to-go speed, Harbor Express Café will open after final touches are made in downtown Wheaton Feb. 22.
The Lincolnshire-based company, HAMCO Inc., is opening up its first Harbor Express Café in the First Trust Building, 120 Liberty Dr, a few blocks east of the Wheaton Egg Harbor Café at 208 Hale St. Wendy Mospan of HAMCO Inc. said that the first Harbor Express Café will open in Wheaton because of a "wonderful connection."
"We have a good catering relationship with the folks in the building where we're located and we're hoping to expand that to the entire community," she said.
Mospan said HAMCO has been actively planning for Harbor Express for a little over a year—something they've envisioned for nearly five years.
Egg Harbor guests really like the food and service—service that the café has "been known for for 25 years," said Mospan of why she thinks Harbor Express will succeed. She added that some great new ideas and the casual, quick environment of Harbor Express is a way of reaching out to Wheaton Harbor fans and accommodating their busy lives.
Manager Gary Dudkowski said the concept of the new restaurant is to attract on-the-go diners by mixing popular Egg Harbor items with salads and gourmet sandwiches. The menu will include items such as a pot roast sandwich on a pretzel roll, Philly steak roll and an Italian beef sandwich that has been a hit at Egg Harbor.
“Every sandwich is high quality, and a lot of thought has been put into each one,” he said. “These sandwiches are just different from what we offer at Egg Harbor even though there are the old standbys of Door County Melt and the Door County Chicken Salad.”
Daily specials such as sloppy joes and deli sandwiches will be offered, and there will be combo meals accompanied by a drink and homemade potato chips.
Early risers can order blueberry pancakes and egg sandwiches. And for a diner's coffee fix, the café will serve cappuccinos, lattes, hot chocolate and bakery sweets. Dudkowski said meal tabs will range from $8 to $10. Customers can pick up their food or sit inside a 25-table dining area. Harbor Express Café will be open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch.
The café will also offer a catering menu and online ordering.
“The online ordering is going to be pretty big,” Dudkowski said. “People can just call in their order and even pay online and they’re done.”
The decor will be a departure from the homey, country-themed Egg Harbor decor. It will have a modern look with its digital menu boards filled with images and a ticker for stock market news.
Dudkowski is eager to serve what he calls a built-in customer base in the First Trust Building.
“There’s 426 employees so we’re hoping to capture them so they don’t have to go out anywhere and stay within the building,” he said. “We hope to grow the business outside the community as well.”
Noel Wiedman, manager of the Downtown Wheaton Association, sees this kind of restaurant as a “perfect addition” to the dining district.
“We have a lot of great ‘sit-down’ style restaurants, but this fast-casual type of eatery is one of the few in downtown Wheaton, and there is demand for it,” she said. “Considering First Trust is home to hundred of employees, the fit is perfect for those on-the-go workers. With the Metra Station being only a few blocks away, this makes the café a great place to grab a quick bite prior to making that commute downtown.”