'The community is excited': Huntley Dairy Mart's new owner wants to reopen by Wednesday

The Huntley Dairy Mart is not yet reopened, but that has not stopped fans from asking if they could order food this week.

Bill and Amy Dunn recently purchased the ice cream and burger diner from Corinne E. Breskovich, 42, and her husband, Christopher S. Hopp, 38, who were charged earlier this year with drug and weapons violations.

Both have pleaded not guilty to all charges. Hopp additionally was charged with creating and possessing child pornography, counts he also has pleaded not guilty to, court records show.

The pair closed the diner shortly after the charges were filed, and it's been closed since.

This week, however, to get some air circulation through, new co-owner Bill Dunn opened the diner's front door but left the screen door closed. He'd spent much of the day interviewing former employees to rehire them under the new ownership.

Seeing the open door, a man walked into the shop on Route 47 to ask if he could order a Coke, Dunn said.

“Two cars pulled in behind him” to see if they could order, too, Dunn said. “I was having to tell people, ‘No, we are sorry. We are not open.'”

Dunn and his wife, Amy Dunn, closed on the sale and were given the keys just 10 days earlier.

“Everybody I talk to, people I don't even know, are walking up to me and asking, ‘Are you the new guy? That is so awesome. We are so excited for you,'” Bill Dunn said.

Huntley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Binger said the Dunns already have reached out to her, asking about joining the chamber once they are open. They indicated a grand opening was coming soon, she said.

Dairy Mart is “a historical staple in our town. To be reopening like this ... the community is excited,” Binger said.

Buying the venerable Huntley diner was “an opportunity that fell into our lap,” Bill Dunn said, which started with his wife sitting in her hairdresser's chair about 40 days earlier.

Amy and the hairdresser chatted about the restaurant closing down and about how fun it would be to run it, he said.

The stylist, Bill Dunn said, knew someone who knew someone with knowledge of Breskovich and Hopp's legal situation. Through those contacts, they reached out to Breskovich about a possible sale.

He and Amy talked about what they wanted to do and decided “we would be silly to not try to do it,” Bill Dunn said.

“Ten days later, we were under contract to buy,” he said. “It was never listed by a brokerage or an agent. It went really, really quick.”

Because the previous sale was only in October, many of the needed documents such as appraisals and a business evaluation were still fresh, Bill Dunn said.

He has met with the previous owner, Steve Grechis, who ran the Dairy Mart for 31 years before selling last fall, Bill Dunn said. He also connected with Jodi Schultz, who managed the restaurant under Grechis and who has worked there since she was a teenager.

Both Schultz and the former cook are set to return, Bill Dunn said. Many of the young people he interviewed to take summer jobs at the restaurant worked there last year as well.

If all goes according to plan, Bill Dunn said he wants to reopen by Wednesday. He still is working on incorporating the new business, getting utilities turned back on and getting vendors to deliver food.

His biggest fear is that once they do open, business will be “gangbusters, and we will not have people” to keep the food and ice cream coming, Bill Dunn said.

He said that is the question keeping him up at night.

He is not planning on many changes. They will offer the same food from the grill and the same soft serve ice cream treats.

They might, however, enter the digital age.

Grechis never created a Facebook page or other social media presence for the shop, Bill Dunn said. The landline phone went to an answering machine, and the daily specials were written on a board out front.

“I have created a Facebook page for the business and am in the process of getting it verified” by the social media company before it goes live, Bill Dunn said.

There are Dairy Mart pages on Facebook now, but they are fan pages and not official, he said.

He will probably post on a McHenry County food critic Facebook page. Scrolling through one particular page is “by far my most entertaining time of the night,” Bill Dunn said.

Amy, 50, will continue in her current career. It is likely their two daughters, ages 19 and 16, will work with him, Bill Dunn said.

Dunn, now 51, spent a majority of his adult working life in the mortgage business, so running a restaurant is new to him.

“It is like a new lease on life for me. I am so excited, and this is something I love. I love to cook. I like to mingle. I am a very social person,” Bill Dunn said. “I am excited for the challenge.”

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