An occasionally updated chronicle of estate sales in the city and suburbs of Chicago.

"It's such a guilty pleasure..." Lynne Stiefel, Pioneer Press

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicago Train Stop. And More Than a Cafe

The only thing that might make this post more enjoyable for you is knowing that immediately after I left this sale, I inadvertently had lunch at an old-folks cafe called "Mather's: More Than a Cafe." This video will do a better, quicker job of explaining what I wandered into than I ever could.

Ordinarily when I go on these excursions, I enjoy dining at one-of-a-kind, out-of-the-way places I find along the way. It adds to the fun, and gives me a glimpse into a world outside of the standard-issue, corporate-run, hyphenated same-old-thing.

And by the way, get a load of this wallpaper.

And so, after looking at engines and tracks and tunnels and models of charming old-fashioned little towns, I went looking for a place to have a quick bite to eat.

Because I wanted something out of the ordinary, an establishment that described itself as more than a cafe struck me as just right.

It bears saying that this more than a cafe looked perfectly ordinary from the outside. There were no signs or portents that would lead me or you or anyone else to believe that this more than a cafe was as much more as it really was.

My first clue that something was amiss was the receptionist just inside the door. "Can I help you?" she asked with a pointedness I would only grasp a few moments too late. "Yeah..." I said, looking around, still not getting it. "Can I have lunch?"

Oh, and every time I see the phrase "train lover," I immediately think of some girls we used to gossip about in high school.

"Well," the receptionist said, "do you know how this works?" The sensible response would have been a simple "No," and a discreet getaway. But I was inside the door. Patrons had already turned around to greet the new arrival. It was too late to turn back. "You order at the counter," she gestured at a cafeteria line behind her, "and pick a table."

How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?

So I went in. And the very next thing I saw was an exercise class of seniors in sweats and stirrup pants, all of them stretching to their "full range of motion," as encouraged by the instructor. And more seniors beyond them, at computers around the dining area, catching up on emails and pictures of the grandkids and generally brushing up on their Internet skillz.

Isn't this floor festive?

So I ordered my meal -- a Reuben or turkey sandwich or something, I don't exactly recall -- and sat down at a table that was as out of the way as I could find, to wait for its delivery. I felt, as the ladies at Harpo used to say, like a raisin in the rice bowl.

When my sandwich finally arrived, it turned out to be fairly bland and easily chewed.

I finished my meal --along with plenty of salt and pepper -- and left without incident. Of course I did. Those seniors weren't looking for trouble any more than I was. And when I was once again outside, I'm sure we all breathed a grateful sigh of relief.

I hope they all had a good laugh at my expense. Because I've certainly had one or two at theirs.

And by the way, isn't it strange that a semi-truck would deliver the magic of Lionel trains to you?


  1. Ah Michael, you may have been in my neck of the woods (I live by the Higgins Mather's). I've always been curious about that place . . .

  2. You didn't go to the wrong place to just arrived a little early.

  3. Mark -- It WAS the Higgin's Mather's. Ha. Next time I'll wave as I drive by.

    Bob -- I kind of thought the same thing myself.

  4. Oh Michael, you didn't stay for the Writing class?

  5. No, but the scrapbooking seminar looked interesting.


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