Wild Berries Coming to Peoria

By Joe Bennett

June 19, 2011 Updated Jun 19, 2011 at 10:22 PM CDT

While many businesses and organizations can blame bad times on a bad economy, one restaurant in Normal has not only managed to keep its head above water, it's now opening an additional location in Peoria.

Wild Berries in Normal opened its doors two years ago. In that time, it's reputation has grown like its name.

One first-time customer says, "It's good. It's really good stuff."

A regular adds, "I like the good food, I like the people and I feel like I'm sitting home at my kitchen table."

"When you have all family here, you know, we want you to feel like you're coming into our home," says Wild Berries manager Denise Preston.

She credits much of their success to her husband's original recipes.

Casey Preston is not only the head chef; He's also the owner.

"When he gets bored back there he just starts creating and we throw more specials and things on the menu," says Denise Preston. "All the various kinds of stuffed french toast, pancakes, multi grain, regular pancakes, pumpkin pancakes, all kinds of omelettes."

Throw in those two key ingredients (location and accessibility), mix in a couple of universities, and the success of Wild Berries seems evident.

"Your drawing a lot of people into the town for all kinds of functions, so just being off the expressway where we are, people stop in all the time," the restaurant manager explains.

With a line that forms outside every week for Sunday brunch and with customers coming in from all over the state, it's no wonder that Wild Berries' owner has decided to expand to an additional location in Peoria.

Signs have already staked the new restaurant off of Interstate 74 on Brandywine Drive.

The Prestons say some new paint, a little cleaning and a lot of hard work should have them ready for an August 1st opening.

And if the Peoria Wild Berries grows as well as the original, the restaurant may even branch out to Springfield and Champaign, something rather unique to a local business in its first two years of success.

Denise Preston agrees.

"You're not going to find anything else like this in this town or anywhere else, except maybe now in Peoria."

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