Monday, November 03, 2008

Good Day! Got one...

The passion behind Enjoi Bakery and Cafe


November 2, 2008

Enjoi Bakery and Cafe in Channahon is coming up to a first year anniversary in December. While locals, and more recently, out-of-towners, have come to appreciate the delicious homemade food at Enjoi, many don't know the story behind the passion that created the restaurant.

In 2004 Kellen Walker was home from college on summer break when he collapsed while playing baseball; he had a 20 minute grand mall seizure. Tests found that Kellen had an Arterio-Venous-Malformation, or AVM, on his brain.

AVM is an abnormal collection of blood cells on the brain and is present at birth. It begins very small and grows with the child and is typically not found until it begins to hemorrhage. Most people die in their 30s or 40s without knowing about the illness.

After four surgeries over a two-month period to untangle the veins and arteries that were threatening his motor skills and sight, he was released back to school.

By October Kellen was having seizures every eight weeks, some of them mild and others serious. He finished school, with the help of his professors at Carthage College, Wis., with a degree in marketing in 2005. After each seizure he would have to come home and recuperate for a time.

Work struggles
Following graduation, and then marriage to wife Michelle, a teacher at Channahon District 17, Kellen found it difficult to hold down a job. His employers did not always cooperate with the restrictions his seizure disorder required, like not climbing ladders or lifting more than 50 pounds. He also had to rely on family to get him to and from work.

"I worked at several places that didn't want to follow the restrictions I was given," said Kellen.

The family worried every moment Kellen was away from home, said Joi. Joi was a teacher at Channahon Junior High, a position she held for 10 years. She was able to carry her cell phone with her at all times.

The family worked out plans for almost every aspect of Kellen's life. His employer had instructions to call Joi immediately if he had a seizure. But when an episode at work left him without his ID and lying in a hospital unclaimed for hours, the family knew they needed to act.

"We just weren't going to get the things we needed from anyone else," said Joi.

The Joi of Cookies
They brainstormed ideas on how they could work together so Kellen would be employed and able to support his own family. That's when they came up with Enjoi Bakery and Cafe.

Joi had always wanted to open her own cookie business and call it the Joi of Cookies. Her cakes and cookies are famous with family and friends; she has given them as gifts for years. Kellen, on the other hand, had the expertise of marketing and business.

"The passion behind the restaurant is Kellen," said Joi. "We sat down as a family to make sure he has a livelihood and the support from his family."

The menu at Enjoi was created mostly from Walker family recipes, along with some handed down from friends. They are the ones that the kids grew up with, said Joi.

"They are recipes we have used for years and years. Things the kids remember and that made them comfortable."

Like Joi's famous chili or cheesy vegetable soup. The menu even recommends mixing them together as the family has done for years after a cousin tried it and loved it.

Beyond the wonderful bakery products that are mostly homemade right in the Enjoi kitchen, there are specialty sandwiches, salads, coffee drinks and even gelato -- also made right at Enjoi.

The Cafe is a warm and cozy place to hang out and the owners encourage everyone from business people to teenagers to kick back on the sofas and chairs, work on their laptops with free WiFi, do homework or watch the big-screen TV.

Enjoi also does catering and has a banquet room that seats 80 for meetings, parties and celebrations. They recently catered a birthday party for a Nigerian family and cooked traditional food from recipes the family provided. You are likely to see either Kellen or Joi behind the counter at Enjoi. Kellen loves to mingle with customers and hear everyone's stories, he said. Meeting people and talking with them is what he loves most about the business.

You might also see Jim, who is at the Cafe every minute he's not working his regular job at Flint Hills Resources. And there's more family involved -- Jim and Joi's daughter Cassie Walker who puts in time when she's not at college; Joi's sister Janet Weakly; Kellen's wife Michelle; and family friend Michelle Barnes with her talent for drawing practically anything to put on a cake.

Everyone chips in and does what needs to be done, whether it's picking up Kellen and his eight month old daughter Kennedy and bringing both into work; running a delivery down the street; making sandwiches; or preparing fruit trays. The family sticks together and creates possibilities where tragedy once overshadowed.

After a few experimental surgeries, Kellen is still not seizure free, but he hasn't given up. The next surgery could be the cure. And if it isn't, he has a steadfast family to lean on and an optimistic outlook on life.

"If you are told you can't do a lot of things, or you think your life is kind of crappy," said Kellen, "with determination, family and community working together anything can happen."


Well looks like a happy story.

It has been slow this week. I went to work today... 1 legged ups.... oh well at least they were up's.

I gotta go... I give you some youtube....

Painters & Dockers - Nude School (1987)

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