Biz Buzz Monday: Galena restaurant changes ownership

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. In addition to this update from Galena, Ill., we will share additional developments in Tuesday’s edition.

More than two decades ago, Laura Hefel took a leap from employee to owner of The Market House restaurant in Galena, Ill.

Now, as she retires, Hefel will pass the torch to another longtime employee, Mercedes Hernandez, and allow her to do the same.

The Market House, located at 204 Perry St., was established in 1982. Hefel started working there in 1989. In 1998, she purchased the business.

“I figured if I worked there and I had been working for somebody else, why not work for myself?” she said.

For the next 23 years, Hefel took pride in serving up The Market House’s menu, which she described as “Midwestern comfort food.” Customers devoured the restaurant’s chicken puff pastry, goulash, mac and cheese, meatloaf and other items.

Her favorite part of the job was the close bond she formed with her clientele, whom she said she grew to love like family.

“You get to watch customers have babies, and you get to watch the babies go from infancy to booster seats to teenage years to adults on their own,” she said. “There were some that I would even go to their house for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I really got attached to them.”

As she started to consider retirement, those connections with her customers meant Hefel “couldn’t let go” of The Market House at first.

In recent years, however, the loss of some older customers dealt an emotional blow. The physical demands of the job also contributed to her decision to pass the reins to Hernandez, who has worked at The Market House for 13 years.

Hernandez will operate the restaurant with her husband, Sergio Perez, and their friend, Octavio Martinez.

“We are happy, but at the same time, it is a bit of an increased responsibility to keep the customers happy,” Hernandez said.

The three plan to keep the restaurant’s menu very similar as they assume ownership. In the future, they hope to add breakfast options, Hernandez said.

The Market House is closed during the transition but will reopen in the coming weeks. The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

More information is available at or by calling 815-777-0690.