Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Streetcar To Desire: Gardner, Illinois' Streetcar Diner and Riviera Roadhouse on Route 66

Route 66's Riviera was one of Al Capone's old haunts.

Out back, they've got a great old streetcar diner.

Illinois has a great stretch of Route 66 with many well-preserved roadside delights. Just north of the small town of Gardner sits two, two, two eccentric roadside attractions in one. Out front is the Riviera Roadhouse, dating back to 1928. Gene Kelly and Tom Mix liked to stop here in the old days, and liquor and slot machines could be found here for discreet patrons during Prohibition. None other than Al Capone was one of the notorious VIPs way back when. It was closed when we stopped by, but a quick web search tells me they're still open for business, serving good grub and a Schlitz or two if you so desire. Behind the Riviera sits a true gem: a former horse-drawn streetcar diner that's over 100 years old. It's been in Gardner since 1932 and was a food stop for the Greyhound bus line until it closed in 1939. It was moved to its current location behind the Riviera in 1955 and was used mostly for storage until the Illinois Route 66 Preservation Committee restored it to its original appearance. It's a serene sight, like a retired racehorse gently grazing out its days in the meadow behind the barn.


The Viewliner Limited said...

The streetcar diner is absolutely incredible. I want to buy it and move it to my backyard.

Gunnar and Sherry said...

Yes, Richard. Me too. Isn't it cute?

DannyG said...

The diner has been moved next to the "Two Cell Jail". It is being re-dedicated on Friday November 11, 2011 in Gardner.

Anonymous said...

The Riviera may be gone as a landmark phiscally but, its cooking still lives on. My Mother & Father in Law are Peggy and Bob Kraft there were only 2 owners of the Riveria, and they had it for 37 yrs before someone burnt it to the ground, Even now when ever we drive past there it brings tears to our eyes. But we still have our memories. We have done a Riveria Restraunt Commerative Cookbook so, that the delicious recipies can continue on. The Cook book is filled with pictures and recipies on every page. They can be obtained for $17.95 per book plus shipping and handling there are 50 pages front & back full of all the Riveria's famous recipies.If interested you can email me at