in LDN’s “Let’s Eat” Series
Rey’s Mexican fare spiced with friendly service
26, 2000] You
can pick one of 25 “delicious combos,” or select from the
slate of 13 house specialties or try your favorite among 17
dinners. Add to this
menu 10 lunch specials, four great desserts, a batch of vegetarian
delights and more than a dozen appetizers and you get the
message—El Rey’s offers a huge variety of authentic Mexican
cuisine, all prepared on-site and served by friendly and attentive
Rey opened last September at 831Woodlawn Road. Manager Carlos
Perez, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, worked for El Rey’s
owner at a restaurant in Tennessee before moving to Lincoln.
He likes the peace and quiet of Lincoln life, and he has
been impressed with the welcoming nature of the locals.
His favorite El Rey meal is the fajita dinner, served with
a hot plate of chicken or beef strips smoldered in tomatoes,
onions and bell peppers, accompanied by a plate of guacamole
salad, sour cream, pico de gallo, beans and rice.
It’s his favorite, but Carlos admits he can’t eat the
whole thing. Portions
at El Rey are immense.
[This simple storefront is your entry to
good, authentic Mexican food at El Rey's.]
one of El Rey’s waiters, greets every table with a smile and a
welcome. “Bienvenidos, amigos,” he says, placing a bowl of
tortilla chips and a bowl of freshly prepared salsa before his
guests. Soft drinks
are refilled so quickly they seem to be perpetually full.
food certainly seems authentically Mexican, at least to a
Midwesterner, and the prices are just what a family would find
inviting. Children’s meals are $2.45, and full, adult dinners range
from $4.35 to $9.50. Lunches
are priced at $3.50 to $5.99.
It’s good food, a lot of food and very reasonably priced.
[As luscious as it looks, fried ice cream hides
this pile of whipped cream drizzled with
chocolate and a cherry on top.]
music, upbeat and at just the right volume to allow for table
talk, sets the tone for a pleasant dining experience.
While enjoying your meal you will notice a steady stream of
carry-out customers departing with bags full of take-home food.
top of second column)
Rey is a place to relax. The
menu explains, “It is absolutely correct to eat tacos, tostados
and tortillas with your fingers.”
Heaps of rice and beans are sides with most entrées.
food is best when served hot, Perez explains, and plates are
steaming when they arrive at the table.
Waiters are quick to take orders, food is prepared in short
order and the chips and salsa are irresistible during the brief
[Adrian greets customers with a friendly smile and
an authentic address, "Can I get you
something to drink, amigo?"]
hard to imagine that most diners have room for dessert, but if
they do they are in for a treat.
Fried ice cream, sopapilla with ice cream, and flan (a rich
Mexican custard) are worth a trip to El Rey in their own right.
your idea of a Mexican meal is a taco or cornmeal tamale, you can
find that at El Rey. But
why not venture out? The
quezadilla rellena is plump with chicken or beef.
The chimichanga is smothered in cheese.
And the bistec tapatio is a good old Logan County ribeye
steak, topped with green salsa.
County is an eater’s paradise, and El Rey adds some ethnic spice
to the long list of places to dine . . . or to carry out.
Dog Inn serves up
a family-friendly atmosphere
25, 2000] Some would say destiny drew Susie Fuhrer to put in her
application at the Blue Dog Inn in April 1980. After all, her grandfather, Grover Field, operated the
Illinois Tavern at the same location from the 1930s until 1955,
then sold it to Susie’s father, Bob, who operated the Tavern
until 1976. Fuhrer’s parents suggested she apply for the job at the
Blue Dog, though her own experiences at the Illinois Tavern were
limited. In her
teens, Susie occasionally helped clean, and as a young girl she
would stop by to see her dad on the way home from school.
It was a special treat to sit and share a small bottle of
Coke and a Hershey bar.
When Susie’s father sold the Illinois Tavern in
1976, it continued to operate under new ownership until 1979.
It was then that Lou Hardacre purchased the business and,
after extensive remodeling, opened the Blue Dog Inn on October 23.
Fuhrer’s first day was Maundy Thursday in 1980.
She became a business partner in 1983 and assumed sole
proprietorship in 1990.
Why “Blue Dog Inn”?
There are several stories about the origin of the name, but
Susie shares the one about the real “Blue Dog.”
Hardacre lived on a farm that had been previously occupied
by Rick Garrett, John Verderber and two other friends.
The quartet had a pet, a female German shepherd that they
called “Dog.” When
the group moved to town, they brought Dog too, but she was so
“blue” they took her back to become a permanent part of the
farm. The Blue Dog
Inn is named after the blue “Dog.”
left to right: Susie Fuhrer,
Kristina Snyder, Susie Taylor.]
When the Blue Dog first opened, lunch was served from
11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but a majority of the business was still from
the bar. There were regular customers and “everyone knew your
the business evolved, and snacks were offered in the evening.
The lunch business built when the selection was increased
and made available later than 2 p.m. The larger, all-day menu with
appetizers, burgers and fries started after a grill and fryers
were put in during a kitchen remodeling in late 1985.
Today, the Blue Dog Inn is known for its food, not as
a bar. Very little alcohol is consumed at lunch, and in the evening
the drinks are usually served with dinner.
The counter is used most often for individuals stopping by
for a sandwich. The
Blue Dog has adapted to the times, offering salads, soups,
desserts, a daily special and fish every Friday.
The number of employees has tripled over the last 10 years
and Fuhrer notes that she has “one of the best staffs” she has
ever had right now. Susie
says that she and her dozen employees are a close-knit group –
more like a family than an owner/employee relationship.
Fuhrer’s favorite aspects of the business are the
customers and employees, and being busy.
When Susie takes a moment to fix something for herself,
it’s usually a grilled chicken or spinach salad at lunch; or a
dinner salad, blue cheese burger or chicken strips and French
fries with cheese sauce for supper.
Family ties brought Susie to the Blue Dog Inn and
still play an important role in the business.
Her father was the chief “fish fryer” when “all you
can eat catfish” was featured once a month in the late ’80s
and early ’90s, and he continues to work at least one day a
week. When Susie
decided the Blue Dog needed an update last fall, her father and
her husband, Steve, did the carpentry work while she and her
mother papered and painted.
top of second column in this article)
remodeling was brought on by leakage after the building to the
north of the Blue Dog was demolished.
A more permanent solution was needed, so Bob and Steve
built an air space between the outside and inside wall.
They planned to cover the lower half with tin and paint it
brown like the Illinois Tavern had been in the ’30s, but the tin
was so attractive they decided to leave it its natural color.
New lights and wiring were installed so all the lights
could be turned out with one switch instead of individually.
All the rooms received a fresh coat of paint and were
papered, and new vanities were installed in the bathrooms.
This major renovation was accomplished in just six days
total, and the Blue Dog Inn was closed only two weekends, opening
for business in between.
plans include the possibility of opening the space to the south of
the Blue Dog (formerly The Other Side of the Fence and Elder’s
Custom Cycle) for small groups and meetings.
Susie has had many requests for this type of service.
The menu would be different, pre-planned and the space
available by reservation only.
She’s also considering opening the apartment above the
is quick to share credit for the success of the Blue Dog Inn with
her family, especially her husband, Steve Fuhrer, whom she married
Aug. 2, 1991. He’s
quick to help with maintenance and repairs while working a
full-time job and serving as an alderman.
Most importantly to Susie, he serves as a sounding board
for her and is understanding about the hours she spends at the
Blue Dog Inn. They’ve
recently added a new member to their family, a 9-week-old puppy
dumped on their doorstep about a year ago.
“Blue” joined three cats but is the most spoiled member
of the brood. Susie
and Steve had not had a dog previously because they didn’t feel
they were home enough to take care of one, but she admits that
Blue has definitely changed their feelings.
They’re in the process now of taking his picture so he
can become the new “poster dog.”
[Susie Fuhrer chats with (left to right): Evelen
Jenkins, Marsha Dallas, and Grethen Plotner.]
the little free time she has, Susie serves on the Main Street
Lincoln Board of Directors and on the Design Committee and
Economic Restructuring Committee.
The Blue Dog Inn is a contributing sponsor to the upcoming
Historic Preservation Week observance.
Blue Dog Inn has its own website, www.bluedoginn.com,
and Susie can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Restaurant hours are Mondays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday
through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11
a.m. to 11 p.m.
Postville Courthouse closed
for major renovation
24, 2000] The
Postville Courthouse State Historic Site on Fifth Street in
Lincoln has been closed for a major project that will rehabilitate
all portions of the reconstructed 1840’s building. “The
building is 50 years old. It
needs plumbing, wiring, a new furnace, a new roof and the
replacement of some doors and windows,” Richard Schachtsiek,
site manager of Postville and the Mount Pulaski Courthouse, told
the Lincoln Daily
are trying to get ahead of the situation before problems arise.”
project, to cost $248,902, will be performed by RJS Construction
of Peoria and should be complete by late fall of this year.
Interior work will include plastering, painting and
remodeling of the courthouse’s two fireplaces into historically
accurate designs. A
new security system and a new storage shed will also be added.
have a commitment to maintain this site for future use,”
Schachtsiek said. He believes the Looking for Lincoln project
gives the Postville Courthouse “very much potential” as a
tourist site, especially because of the research that has been
done on the Lincoln legal papers.
[The original Postville
could be as important a site as Mount Pulaski on the Looking for
Lincoln Trail because it tells what Lincoln did to make a living.
About one-half of his time he spent traveling the Eighth
Judicial Circuit. There
are only three places where you can learn about his career
traveling the Circuit – Postville, Mount Pulaski and Metamora
courthouses,” he said.
the past, attention has been focused on Lincoln’s political
career, but in recent years, partly because of the Lincoln legal
papers, attention has been focusing on his legal career. We’re fortunate we’ve got two of the four Lincoln legal
sites here in Logan County: Postville and Mount Pulaski,” he
other two legal sites are the Metamora Courthouse and the
Lincoln-Herndon law office in Springfield.
research has been completed on the Lincoln legal papers,
Schachtsiek said, and they are now available on CD ROM for
select cases will also be published in book form.
“What the Lincoln Legal Paper project did was draw in all
the raw data. Now it
is up to other historians and researchers to interpret this data.
What this means is that Lincoln’s legal career is now
more visible and the public will, we hope, be more interested and
more curious about it, and come to sites related to that legal
top of second column in this article)
town of Postville was the county seat of Logan County for eight
years, until Mount Pulaski won the honor from Postville in an 1848
referendum. In 1855
the county seat was moved again, this time to the growing town of
Lincoln, and by the time of the Civil War Lincoln had absorbed the
old town of Postville into its boundaries.
courthouse served as a store, a post office, a private home, and
was finally purchased by Henry Ford in 1929 for $8,000.
Ford dismantled the building and moved it to his Greenfield
Village in Dearborn, Mich., but donated the block the courthouse
had been located on to the Logan County Historical Society.
[The reconstructed Postville Courthouse was built
site of the original courthouse in 1953.]
its centennial in 1953, the city of Lincoln presented the block of
land to the state of Illinois, which constructed a replica of the
building, based on the original in Greenfield Village.
In 1956 the “new” Postville Courthouse opened.
The first floor contains an interpretive exhibit on the
Eighth Judicial Circuit, on which Abraham Lincoln served as a
lawyer, and the second floor houses a courtroom and office furnished
as they might have been in the1840s when Lincoln was practicing
law. The Mount
Pulaski and Metamora courthouses are still the original buildings.