CAMPTON HILLS, Ill. (WLS) -- While many restaurants have struggled to stay afloat during the COVID pandemic, Egg House has opened a second location, a rare story of expansion during this trying time.
The new location in Campton Hills, near St. Charles, is owned by Toni Zekjiri and Bani Ismili, who opened their first location just as the pandemic hit.
"If you work hard United States you make it," Zekjiri said. "Like working seven days and in two years we never got a holiday."
The proprietors, both young family men, call their staff family, and the restaurants are focused on made-from-scratch meals at modest prices.
Zekjiri and Ismili met seven years ago when Ismili was driving a taxi and popped into another restaurant where Zekjiri was working the grill. They pooled their life savings to open Egg House in Lombard, relying solely on their vision.
"You wake up and you are positive about the work," Ismili said. "It's not like you're thinking negatively. You don't think negative, you only think positive and work."
By late 2021, with business sizzling as pandemic lockdowns eased, the risk-takers had $80,000 in profit which was enough to open a second Egg House 30 minutes away.
Customers love the friendly, familial atmosphere and delicious food.
It's a rare success story for a struggling industry. In 2021, the restaurant industry nationwide lost sales of $65 billion and 1 million jobs. Now 90,000 restaurant locations are temporarily or permanently closed.
But Ismili and Zekjiri think a third Egg House is a possibility.
"If you work hard the American Dream is over there for you," Zekjiri said.
Egg House owners open 2nd location in Campton Hills in rare pandemic success story
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