By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal
Owners: James and Robin Wright; Ron and Ritta Leprich
Address: 110 Gaither St., Fulton
Hours: Monday though Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Primary business: Chicago-style sandwiches
‘You’re never off work. Even when I’m at home or trying to get some sleep, I’m still trying to think of ways to improve my business. It never stops. Still, it’s a heck of a game.’
Chicago native James Wright is an enthusiastic man, to say the least. He’s the head chef and co-owner of RJ’s Eatery, a Chicago-style sandwich shop in the middle of downtown Fulton.
“One day, I just came up with the wild idea that I should do what I’ve always wanted to do,” Wright said. “And there’s no rhyme or reason why we’re here, we just are.”
Carrying a light 1950s theme – with chairs padded in bright red, the floor checkered in black-and-white and pictures of muscle cars lining the walls – RJ’s serves the kind of food a customer might have picked up at a Chicago diner six decades ago.
He opened the shop five years ago and has enjoyed steady business since.
“We have really good word-of-mouth business,” he said, adding that it’s the best kind since its built on reputation. “I run into people all the time who know me. It’s so neat.”
Wright’s recognizability is certainly linked to his love of a good conversation. Besides cooking, it’s his favorite aspect of his chosen profession.
“I like talking to people and hearing about what’s going on,” he said. “You get to hear everybody’s stories, which I really enjoy.”
That said, cooking is definitely Wright’s passion. It’s something he does nearly non-stop, happily preparing food both at work and at home.
“I play with my recipes almost every day,” he said. “I’ve always loved cooking. I cook all day here and when I go home at night, I cook.”