The owners of E.J. Wills Gastropub took home the 2020 Spirit of McKinney Business Service award from the Volunteer McKinney Awards Ceremony with a humble yet bursting heart. Though organizers had to cancel the 2020 award ceremony due to COVID-19, they made sure to recognize both the 2020 and 2021 award recipients at their recent event.

After just three years in business at the corner of Stonebridge and 380—with year two being almost entirely during the global pandemic—E.J. Wills Gastropub has established itself as one of the most giving entities in the McKinney community.

“From spirit night fundraisers benefiting our local schools and gifts for silent auctions, to our wildly successful Guest Bartending Nights, our family has a deep and abiding commitment to service and philanthropy. We believe that we don’t just feed people with our food, we nourish them with our support as well,” says Joy Booth, E.J. Wills Gastropub’s owner. “Our motto is ‘where friends and flavor come together’ and we live that by galvanizing the community around important causes to promote the mission of the nonprofit sector.”

Multiple times a month, the restaurant brings in a different guest to bartend for the nonprofit of their choice. “The purpose is to highlight McKinney- or Collin County-based organizations and to raise awareness and funds to enhance their programs and activities,” explains Booth. The Spirit of McKinney Business Service award recognized E.J. Wills’ Guest Bartender Program as one of many efforts in which the restaurant is involved.

“Receiving this award is the highest honor we can have. While we have received numerous awards for our cuisine in the past, this achievement salutes our altruism, and it means we are making a difference where it matters most—right here in our community.”