Wauconda's new Legacy 1878 continues tradition of unique businesses on Main Street
For the owner of a new business, there may be no sweeter sound than a customer walking through the front door and gleefully exclaiming, "You're open! You're open!"
Remarks like that have been common inside Legacy 1878, a boutique meat and cheese shop that opened last week at 107 S. Main St. in Wauconda.
And when it happens, owners Megan McCracken and Carl Waggoner smile broadly and jump to work, grabbing the requested steaks, cold cuts or cheese wedges from the shop's large coolers.
Their mission, McCracken said, is "to create a fun, unique neighborhood destination for quality meat and cheese (that's) dedicated to the pleasing of the palate."
But McCracken and Waggoner also are adding flavor to the already diverse collection of unique businesses in downtown Wauconda.
There are no fast-food franchises on Main Street, no global coffee giants or chain clothing stores.
Instead, merchants include: Daddyo's, a framing and collectibles shop; Bulldogs Grill, a restaurant known for hamburgers and wraps made with gourmet ingredients; and the Honey Hill Coffee Co., which offers beverages and pastries to folks needing a caffeinated boost or sugary treat.
It's a great fit for Legacy.
"I know they're going to do great things in there," said Tony Vazquez, Bulldogs' general manager. "They've got the Main Street attitude."
McCracken said the name "Legacy" represents the type of timeless business she and Waggoner hope they've created, while "1878" is the year the building was constructed.
McCracken, 39, of Round Lake Beach, and Waggoner, 41, of Wauconda, have been friends since their teens. Both had corporate jobs before launching the store.
But McCracken long has had an interest in cheese, and Waggoner has what he described as a "passion" for meat.
"I'm just a foodie," he said. "I love to grill. I love to smoke food."
Their culinary hobbies brought them to the 380-square-foot storefront on Main Street, which had been home to Tony's Barber Shop for more than 50 years until owner Tony Castelluccio retired last summer.
Waggoner and McCracken fell for the spot, signed a lease and got to work renovating the space.
They repainted the walls, replaced the floors, moved a bathroom, installed a decorative ceiling and modernized the electrical system. They did nearly all the work personally.
"We were trying to watch all of our pennies," McCracken said.
Folks are excited
Wauconda resident Beth Nolan was among Legacy's first customers. She'd heard the shop was coming on Facebook and eagerly awaited opening day.
"I was really excited about their specialty cheeses," Nolan said.
Maria Weisbruch, executive director of the Wauconda Area Chamber of Commerce, said Legacy and the other independent stores on Main Street make Wauconda a real destination.
"And once you have the patrons coming into town, they tend to explore a little more every time they visit," she said.
Wauconda has chain stores and franchises, including Burger King and McDonald's restaurants and a Jewel-Osco supermarket that all are on Route 176. None are on Main Street.
Bulldog's Vazquez says that's just fine.
"Since they're so far away, we don't see any competition whatsoever," Vazquez said. "We're an oasis."
Waggoner said he and McCracken opened Legacy 1878 on Main Street to contribute to that community.
"Ultimately, what it comes down to is a passion for Wauconda," Waggoner said.
That includes soon offering sandwiches named after local landmarks, including Phil's Beach and Tony's Barber Shop.