I’m going to go out on a limb here; not many people just “find” themselves in Dwight, IL on a dark, lonely, muggy night in August. This however is exactly where I, my wife and stepson found ourselves on August 11th of 2007.
You see, we were out hunting the Perseid Meteors. Yeah, yeah … there was a camera involved, too, but that’s a story for another time.
We decided that since we hadn’t been on a road trip in a while — much less one to Illinois — that we’d pack ourselves in the car and just drive south from Kenosha, Wisc. and see where we ended up.
We’d been driving nearly two hours when we realized that we hadn’t eaten before heading out. We were feeling a bit peckish at this point when suddenly; we realized we were on The Mother Road…Route 66!
Now this was, in and of itself, very cool, but hunger was beginning to take it’s toll and Route 66 — in the dark — wasn’t really doing it for us. We did, however, figure that there just had to be *someplace* along this historic thoroughfare where we could stop for a bite.
Suddenly, up ahead in the distance: Neon. As we approached, an almost melodious and definitely heavenly odor wafted into the car.
Yes, we had found a diner!
But oh, this was no ordinary diner, ladies and gentlemen, for we had stumbled onto one of the coolest places we’ve found in our many travels: That 50’s Place!
Upon entering, one is greeted by the lovely Betty Boop and your hosts, The Blues Brothers:
Look to your right; an old petrol pump and a reminder of what shaving was like back in the day. (One hardly even notices the ATM … I didn’t even see it until I got the photos back home on the computer.)
The decor and seating area is classic 50’s diner, to be sure.
I swear, it felt just like walking on to the set of “Happy Days” or … or stepping out of a time machine.
And for those still pining for Elvis, he is, indeed, still alive; the aliens dropped him off and left him at the end of the counter. He’s appearing nightly and will *not* be leaving the building!
Seriously, you can easily spend an hour just looking around at all the cool stuff here.
Opening in 1979, the restaurant quickly became a favorite with travelers — and especially truckers — traversing I-55 (old Route 66). It enjoyed a great deal of success until the proliferation of chain restaurants began springing up in the mid ’80’s. Hard times, indeed, seemed to have fallen until 2005, when Laura and Rod Feddersen purchased the aging restaurant and gave it an updated twist to its current theme of a 1950’s diner. I asked Laura about the turnaround:
“Business for us is booming while the economy is generally not. I believe it is because it reminds people of simpler times. The restaurant has cross-appeal to all ages, young and old. Seniors enjoy reminiscing about days gone by and young parents enjoy sharing the history of the 1950’s (Elvis, Marilyn Monroe) with their children.”
Now, as for the food; I realize that diner fair is not everyone’s cup o’ tea, but if you crave the old flavors and dishes of yesteryear, you can hardly go wrong. It’s a pretty standard diner menu, with breakfast served at all times during open hours. We all had a cup of chili … most excellent! I had a bacon cheeseburger to die for. For my wife: chicken-fried steak and my stepson had breakfast: eggs, sausage, pancakes, hash browns … the works. We all tasted each other’s meals and couldn’t get over just how good everything was, and the portions were huge!
And here’s the thing: Most people, when they think “diner” immediately think greasy. Nope, not here. Good old fashioned cooking, but certainly not the stereotypical grease that sticks with you for days that you’ll find at most places.
All in all, one of the best dinning experiences we’ve ever had. In fact, it’s been a while now; I think we’ll be planning a return trip real soon. I know our first visit will have lasting memories, sure.
Loyalty Rewards. Kids eat free. Daily specials, including all you can eat … the place has it all.
Located at 600 W. Mazon Ave. – Rt. 17 & I-55 – Just off Historic Route 66 in Dwight, Illinois. If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia, good, wholesome food and great service while traveling through Illinois, this is the place to stop, sure.
That ‘50’s Place
600 W. Mazon Ave
Rt. 17 & I-55 – Just of Historic Route 66
Dwight, Illinois 60420
– Gareth Glynn Ash
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