Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Salute to Monari's

Earl, Cathy and Renee - you made it look easy!

Any Illinois Valley diner has most likely had the pleasure to be served by one of the Monari family in the last fifty some years. Is there any better example of true hospitality than Earl's "bar's open till 2!" attitude?

I have some friends who, in their younger days, were sales representatives. They would travel all around the Midwest visiting towns like LaSalle - Peru. They have told me time and time again that we are very lucky for the variety of choice and the level of hospitality in the Midwestern rust-belt that we have. Now we are are losing one of our cornerstones.

Monari's 101 Club played host to my first drink at a bar outside of my Red Door Inn bubble, a going away party when I left the Red Door, and several of our employee Christmas parties. My favorite memories were when we had young kids. We would put the kids to bed, grab a late night babysitter and meet good friends who were in the same boat as us with kids. A few drinks and dinner, we'd just try to relax and get away from the pressures of day-to-day life.

Many traditions will change also. A round of drinks after a round of golf.  Restaurant workers grabbing an unhassled late night relaxer. The best chicken livers on the planet. And eating the second half of my lyonnaise potatoes with cheese for breakfast. My favorite was always getting waited on very late night Valentine's Day and sharing a lobster with my Valentine.

Always professionals. Whenever I would walk in, Earl and I would always spend a varying portion of time discussing the state of our industry. He was always on the level, honest, and fair. I considered myself blessed to have a competitor that I genuinely liked, admired, honored, and respected. He had the cleanest garbage I have ever seen (this one is just for Earl).

Just like a train running down the tracks, all things must come to an end.

Earl, Cathy and Renee, I will miss you. I speak for myself, my wife Rita, my father Victor, and my staff. We salute you! We know this is not easy. You made it look easy!

One hundred and one well wishes.

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