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Wings and a Prayer

Staple local food and drink brings fresh take on pizza and wings to neighborhood sports bar for all.

Since opening its doors in 2018, Hail Mary’s Food and Drink has quickly established itself as a local institution in Westlake, Ohio. Located on the outskirts of Cleveland in a neighborhood with schools and ball fields nearby, it’s the kind of place where families gather after Little League and fans belly up to the bar for the big game. With 42 seats inside and another 50 seats on a covered patio, it’s not the biggest, but with about $1.35 million in sales last year, business is brisk.

The menu offers an enlightened take on bar food staples and is especially beloved for its wings and Sicilian-style pizzas said owner/ operators Wil and Julie Novak, adding that a focus on freshness was a differentiator from other area restaurants.

“We make everything fresh and it’s just a very well-sourced menu, which Sysco was awesome with,” Wil said. “They have been so helpful with everything we’ve asked and then some.”

Before opening Hail Mary’s, the husband-and-wife team spent 50-plus combined years working with some of the biggest names in the restaurant industry; Julie as a longtime executive at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants and Wil as a chef who opened two Wolfgang Puck concepts and has cooked for U.S. presidents. For the two industry pros, partnering with Sysco was an easy decision when it came time to strike out on their own. While chefs are often hesitant to go with a single provisioner of food products, Sysco’s expansive catalog of top-quality ingredients and value-added business solutions made it the right choice for Hail Mary’s.

“I use all the tools through Sysco so I know exactly in real-time all my numbers. It keeps our food costs in line, it keeps Sysco in line with me for pricing, and it makes things quite simple for our managers,” Wil said.

Added Julie: “Sysco has an advantage over a lot of other purveyors in the sense that they really make an effort to cover the whole of what you’re doing as far as what they offer. Minus linens and TVs, they’re all-encompassing. They get the best partners and make it easy to get in with them and stay there.”

Next up for the Novaks is a new concept called Salty Mary’s Oyster Bar and Tavern that will soon open a mile and a half from Hail Mary’s. Again, they’ve turned to Sysco to help them get the menu together.

“They’ve let us bring in all of our managers or whoever we want, opinionwise, to come in and try things in their corporate kitchen,” Julie said. “We have a great rep and Sysco has really opened up all of their knowledge and expertise to make sure we’ve got what we need.”