URBANA -- The Wood N’ Hog restaurant opening Monday at 101 W. University Ave., U, is the second for owner Michael McDonald.
Since June 2016, he’s had a barbecue place in Pirtle Plaza at Fourth and Tremont streets in Champaign. And coming sometime in the next couple of months will be a third in downtown Champaign at Walnut and Washington streets.
'I'll be 77 in September, so yes, I'm tired,' Bill Van der Wyngaerde, who has owned the institutions for 40 years, said of his reason for cutting back. Later this year, his 49-year-old daughter will move to the area to learn the business in hopes that it will be around for a long time.
“I’m nervous. It’s a huge opportunity for us,” McDonald said of his decision to assume Li’l Porgy’s lease in Urbana and buy Bill Van der Wyngaerde’s equipment.
A mutual friend who knew of Van der Wyngaerde’s desire to scale back and McDonald’s itch to expand put the men in touch and they quickly sealed a deal.
“I do believe God works out things. It’s a great opportunity for us. I look forward to it. Bill has done a great job on University and it’s great to be considered to fill his shoes,” McDonald said.
The younger businessman is not worried about Wood N’ Hog being competition for Li’l Porgy’s.
“We’re very similar. We use open fire and we don’t have tools outside of our stove top to cook our sauce on. We have similar products but different sauce. Our customers won’t be fooled to believe it’s the same, but we cook the same,” McDonald said.
McDonald said he’s much like Van der Wyngaerde in that he is a working owner.
“In order to have any successful business, you have to be hands-on. You can treat your customer the best,” he said.
Cleaning crews will move in tonight after Li’l Porgy’s closes at the location it’s called home for 40 years.