Sometime in the 1920’s, a man named Irv Kolarik was operating a gas station and lunch counter which served mostly sandwiches. A few local women overheard Kolarik say that he didn’t like the gas business much and would rather work the restaurant. He also said that he would like to change up the menu to include fried chicken but didn’t really know how to make it.
The women told Kolarik that they would show him how to cook fried chicken if he would buy the chickens from their farm. Soon, Kolarik had more customers than he could handle. He closed the gas station and opened a larger restaurant to handle the crowd.
For decades, business thrived. Kolarik had slightly outrageous ideas for advertising, including flooding the restaurant’s roof and have teenagers ice skate on it. The nearby airport allowed for mild entertainment as customers could watch the planes take off and land, and the BlueBird Bus line made the restaurant a bus stop. In 1956, Kolarik added a cocktail lounge for late night business.
Unfortunately, when Route 66 bypassed the location, business dropped. Delbert “Dell” Rhea purchased the restaurant in the early 1960’s. His son Patrick now operates the business and has had it listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The sign was recently replaced after the original sign rusted out after 70 years of service.
The restaurant offers a wide range of foods, including the same fried chicken recipe from the 1920’s, Grace Rhea’s recipe for baked beans, and the 50/50 burger, which is half ground beef and half bacon.
Headquarters are located in Willowbrook, Illinois.