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The Riviera Roadhouse

Riviera Roadhouse, Gardner, Illinois

Riviera Roadhouse, 1926

Gardner

I am late to this reporting. On June 8, 2010 the Riviera Road House in Gardner, Illinios burned to the ground.

In 1996 Burt Parkinson, the newspaper editor in Gardner, told me the little of what I know about the Riviera:

In 1926 Jim Girot quit the coal mine in South Wilmington, and opened the Riviera, a roadhouse, on U.S. 66 two miles north of Gardner. It was rumored that Jim offered gambling at the Riviera. Actually, Jim offered a little bit of everything: a little bit of gambling, a little bit of booze, and a little bit of prostitution. He cobbled it together from a little bit of everything: part of a church, part of a school, part of a tin store, and part of the payroll office from the mine where he had dug coal. The final assemblage was several typical Illinois buildings patched together, similar to the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century houses that lined the streets of towns served by 66 in Illinois.

The Riviera went through several owners after Jim Girot. When Bob and Peggy Kraft decided to quit in 2008, that wasn’t the end of the Riviera, but it was the beginning of the end.

Bob Keller leased the building from the Krafts and fought with the fire officials in Gardner over fire safety in the building and fought with the Illinois Route 66 Association over access to the old streetcar diner behind the Riviera. Even without all the fights, restaurant work is hard work and Keller finally backed out of his lease with the Krafts and left the restaurant empty.

However, the Riviera lives on. It  has its own Facebook page. Willem Bor has photographs of his model of the Riviera on his Facebook page.

 

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One Response

  1. 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 the owners 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 wlauriew6@aol.com

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