Friday, July 4, 2008

115 Restaurant -
I'm So Glad I Stopped In!

(Have you clicked on the picture for the large version yet? Click it twice.)
Go ahead, I'll wait.)

Nice, huh?!

Some of you might remember my earlier post, Just take a chance - Mom 'n Pop Places.

Part of what inspired that post was that every time I drove I-94 in Michigan I would find myself intrigued. You see, at as certain part of the trip, I would pass one of those standard tollway food signs listing the options at the next exit. And among the Taco Bell, KFC and Arby's listings...there was "115 Restaurant."

Here's the clincher.
The 115 Restaurant was listed as a stop for exit 115.

I couldn't see the restaurant from the highway, it was tucked behind trees.
But, I knew it was there.
It called to me.

Time after time I drove by the sign, wishing it weren't a holiday, since it would undoubtedly be closed.

Then one day...I was on the road when it WASN'T a holiday, I took the exit.
I'm so glad I did.
How's this for irony.
It's a truck stop - not a Mom'n Pop Place, afterall.
It would have been open.

So, ladies and gents, allow me to introduce you to the place.

It was the day after Memorial day.
And judging by the clock on the wall in my photo, I'm guessing it was 11:10am.

I sat down and the place was mostly empty.
However, there was quite a nice stack of receipts on the spindle.

The place shined - which was promising.
And, there was someone sweeping.
The place was spotless.

I looked around at the booths, but I thought the counter looked like it might be a better place to chat up the waitresses.

What is it about counter stools?
Suddenly had the urge to spin around on it like a 10 year old.
I resisted.
It was difficult.

The waitress who was having a bowl of soup put her spoon down and offered me a smile and a cup of coffee.

Good coffee, really good coffee.
And, it was offered in a mug with a well-worn advertisement for the local tire shop in Albion. Albion Tire City, if I recall correctly.

The waitress asked if I needed a menu. I said yes, but barely opened it. I asked what they were proud of and she she said the biscuits and gravy were mighty popular. "Sold - with a side of extra crispy bacon, please."

Now, I tried not to take it as a hint when the biscuits arrived in Styrofoam. She was pretty embarrassed. I said not to bother grabbing a plate. Why mess one up? This would do just fine.

The next half an hour was a joy. Two different waitresses kept me company in between helping the regulars who stopped in and were greeted by name. The staff let me know that the place was usually packed. I believed them. And, it's been there for 40 years, they said.

We talked about jobs, home repair, and traveling. (I explained that I had family in the area but I lived near Chicago.)

I liked the way they made local references, the factory down the road having it's business taken offshore. This was a given, known by everyone who stopped in for a meal. Except me. Course, now I knew, too.

We spoke about nosy neighbors and high school reunions. It's amazing how much stuff is the same no matter where you live.

The biscuits and gravy were piping hot. And, I noticed that it was a woman who put the plate in the window. Matter of fact, there wasn't a guy to be seen.

I asked if any of the nice looking pies and cakes (see the picture above) were homemade. Yep, carrot cake was. The bread pudding, too. I made note to grab some bread pudding and sweet tea to go.

After a while I asked if I could take a picture. I explained that I was always looking to tell friends about places with good food and good people. She promptly handed me a business card that read, "Good Food & Good People." Wouldn't you know it?

Now, I'm not gonna lie.
Why anyone would wanna take a picture of their place made their heads spin.
But, they were nice enough to the slightly strange woman from Chicago.

So, if you are ever in the area of Marshall, Michigan, stop in. You can find the place off of exit 115.

Oh, and the bread pudding and sweet tea were darn good.
But, the conversation over those biscuits was even better!
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