Metro-East Living

Her cousin died in the Maryville explosion. She opened a restaurant in his honor.

Almost four decades ago, young explorers Doug, 5, his sister Leann, 8, and their cousin Beth, 8, played in the woods near their families homes in Worden. As the children crossed a creek by walking on a log, they were confronted by what Beth remembers as “attack turkeys.”

They started to turn back, but more wild turkeys awaited them. Little Doug protected the girls, taking the brunt of the turkey attack.

Doug Behme would continue to tease Beth Behme-Adkison about those wild turkeys for the rest of his life. In his last conversation with Beth, months before he died of injuries suffered in a gas explosion in Maryville in April 2016, he kidded her that he still had the scars on his back from their pecks.

After considering several options, the family kept seeing the birds and coming back to that old story. They decided to open The Wild Turkey, in Worden, a couple months ago as a tribute to Doug.

“Beth has made all of this such a memory for Doug,” said his mother, Gail.

“All of this” encompasses Beth’s own dream of owning a restaurant. She previously worked as a manager in the claims division with American Family Insurance and had little experience with restaurants.

“I am the nightmare (Gordon Ramsay, the host of the TV show ‘Kitchen Nightmares’) always talks about,” she laughs, of her lack of restaurant experience. “It has been more work ... I am extremely organized and detailed, and I have run into things that I would never have dreamed.”

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Tim Vizer

Beth has hired three cooks, saying each is great, but that lead to some early inconsistency, she said.

“How many different ways can three different cooks put together a taco?” she said. As demonstrated on Tuesdays with the $3 taco special, the way the Wild Turkey does it now is to stuff the shell with meat, lettuce, cheese and tomato. Sour cream and salsa are served on the side.

“These are the things that never would have crossed my mind,” Beth said.

She worked for a few months with a friend who owns a Subway franchise, and she found inspiration from some of her travels.

“I went to San Diego for a dessert. It sucked so it’s not on the menu,” she laughed.

But Poutine Fries, an idea from Canada, is on the menu. The $6.59 appetizer is fries topped with a rich gravy and mozzarella cheese.

“We’ve had a lot of compliments on the gravy,” she said.

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Tim Vizer

Among the sandwiches proving popular is the Hot Brown Sandwich, for $7.99, which is roast turkey on Texas toast with bacon and tomato and served with cheese sauce.

The dining room is decorated with senior class photos from Worden High School until 1988. Doug’s class is not included; that fall the school was incorporated into the Edwardsville School District.

“Doug was so mad,” said his mother. His senior year was spent at Edwardsville.

Wild Turkey

  • 115 E. Wall St., Worden; 618-459-3215
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday
  • Specials: $3 taco Tuesdays; Wednesdays are Italian nights; Thursdays are $2 sliders