By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – Two brothers-in-law have opened a Chicago-style eatery along Central Texas Expressway to bring a taste of Chicago to the Fort Hood area.
Wise Guys has been open in the Shops of Modoc, 300 Central Texas Expressway, for about two weeks. Owners Jerry Dugger and Bill Nychay said they are shocked by the large number of customers.
The two got the idea after visiting each other in Harker Heights and Chicago and eating in both cities, Nychay said. They realized there were no Chicago-style hot dog places in Central Texas.
"I was born and raised in Chicago," Nychay said. "I grew up on hot dogs from Protillos and Gene and Judes in Chicago. I also saw at an early age that these places were packed."
Nychay suggested opening a place in Harker Heights to Dugger, a longtime resident. Dugger said he agreed after tasting several items on the menus in Chicago restaurants.
They then pulled their favorite items from the menus and started to set up shop in December, Dugger said. Their goal was to capture as much of a Chicago feel as possible, so they did all the work themselves.
"We actually built and designed this place all by ourselves," Dugger said. The decor includes pictures of Chicago mobsters from Prohibition on the walls.
The work took them about six to eight weeks.
"When you come in here, you are going to see (Chicago), smell it, taste it and feel it," Nychay said.
Wise Guys is going out of its way to get the same ingredients as Chicago restaurants, Dugger said.
"The food that you get here are the same that you can get on State Street in Chicago," Dugger said.
Nychay boasted about the restaurant's pizza puffs and Italian beef sandwiches.
No other eatery in the Killeen area has those on the menu, Nychay said.
Their wives, Dandy Nychay and Joanna Dugger, help with the workload.
Dandy heads to Wise Guys at 8:30 a.m. every day to start the prep work with Bill, and they don't leave until after closing time, she said.
The work has been hard, but it has been well worth it, she added.
"Once you get the people coming through the door, you get into chatting and you forget (about the hours)," Dandy said.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.