For a little more than a month Ellen Jung and her family have been cooking up a storm on Main Street in Clintonville.
Jung opened Ellen’s Café and Catering at 47 S. Main Street on Dec. 5. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
It’s not the first time she has owned a restaurant, as she owned one in Gresham for several years in the early 2000s. She said she decided to sell that restaurant when her husband, Doug, was deployed overseas the first time.
“It was really hard because I still had three teenagers home and when I got an offer and the price was right, [I sold it],” she said.
Jung never ventured far from the restaurant world, though, as she later leased the Riverside Restaurant in Clintonville.
With her children older and her husband back home from overseas, Jung yearned to once again own her own restaurant.
“I love cooking. I’ll do this until I die,” she said.
It couldn’t be any restaurant, though. The building that would house the restaurant had to provide ample space.
“I’ve had small restaurants,” Jung said. “I wanted room so I can expand and do my thing.”
Knowing she wanted space to expand, she fell in love with the building the restaurant is now located in, when she toured it in May. After acquiring the building, remodeling work began in July, as the building was not previously a restaurant.
“It was pretty much an empty building when we started,” said Jung’s daughter, Alycia Syring.
Renovations to the building took place for five months. And there were challenges along the way.
Much of the restaurant equipment came from Nebraska, Jung said. Jung and some family members traveled to Nebraska to clean the equipment and box it for shipping. That took 14 hours, which was faster than they expected. With extra time on their hands, they decided to spend a day sightseeing.
While sightseeing, and two hours away, the driver of the semi they hired to haul the equipment north to Wisconsin arrived 18 hours early. With hard work already done and more waiting for them, Jung told the driver since he was early, she owed it to her family to continue with their sightseeing plans.
“That was probably the worst experience I’ve probably ever had in my life,” Jung said.
When they returned, they loaded the restaurant equipment, with the help of a local hardware store, and headed back to Clintonville.
The booths in the restaurant came from a restaurant supply warehouse in Chicago.
The family made a final push with many long days of work to finish the renovations so the restaurant could open in early December.
“From July through December there was no money coming in but so much going out,” Syring said.
Jung added, “That’s what the hardest part was.”
The hard work was worth the effort, as Jung said the community has been “awesome” since she opened Ellen’s Café & Catering.
Operating the restaurant is a family thing, which is important to Jung.
Along with her husband and her daughter, her son, Robert, and daughter-in-law, Kayla Prichard, also help at the restaurant.
“It will be handed down,” Jung said. “It won’t go out the door to somebody or a stranger. It will be kept in the family.”