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.
This blog is devoted to old fashioned American roadside attractions... the wonderfully big, bizarre, crazy, wacky, quirky, weird, funny, unique and mundane sites you see travelling cross-country by car in the USA, where getting there really is all the fun!