Three men sat at a long table at Weezy’s Route 66 Bar & Grill in Hamel during a midafternoon lull.
Farmers Roger Wilkening and John Green and retiree Ken Hedger were eating mostaccioli and sharing local gossip.
“I come here for the intelligent conversation,” said Ken, 55, of Edwardsville, prompting his two friends to burst out laughing. “No, seriously, this is called the ‘liar’s table.’ If anybody’s got a problem, they get it solved right here.”
Not all Weezy’s customers are as colorful as the farmers, but the restaurant has plenty of regulars.
Mail carrier Jim Knecht, 62, of Rosewood Heights, stops by almost every day for lunch and sits at the horseshoe-shaped bar.
“The food is always good,” he said. “I don’t have any complaints.”
Jim orders the daily special, which ranges from fried chicken to smoked pork chops, prime rib to cod.
The restaurant also is known for charbroiled burgers, homemade pies and hearty breakfasts, particularly biscuits and gravy made with fresh sausage from locally produced hogs.
“Everything’s made from scratch,” said co-owner Karen Wiesemeyer, 49, of Glen Carbon.
She formerly worked at Randy’s Restaurant in Troy, Stonebridge Clubhouse in Maryville and Diamond Mineral Springs in Grantfork.
Karen bought the Hamel restaurant two years ago with her companion, Coleman Wiessman, 49. He’s a carpenter, so his main involvement with the food is eating it.
“It’s all good,” he said. “But I like the ribeye sandwich.” That’s also a favorite of Karen’s parents, Joe and Shirley Toenyes, of Alhambra.
Weezy’s is at the intersection of Illinois 140 and 157. The restaurant’s name is a derivative of their names. The brick structure was built as a home in the late ’30s, but it has housed a restaurant as long as most people remember.
It started as Tourist Haven, catering to motorists getting their kicks on Route 66. The old sign still hangs in the main dining room.
“I don’t own it,” Karen said. “I wish I did. The owner just lets me borrow it.”
The restaurant later was known as the Village Inn, Ernie’s and Scotty’s.
Karen and Coleman saw its value as a tourist attraction for modern travelers rediscovering Route 66.
“They come from all over, but Europe mainly,” Karen said. “(The Europeans) find freedom here. They don’t really have a Mother Road that will take them everywhere.”
The restaurant has a guest book for visitors to sign and a world map with push pins that mark hometowns.
The decor follows a diner theme with a black-and-white checkered floor and red vinyl seat cushions on chrome booths, tables and chairs.
“We got (the furniture) from Johnny Rockets,” Coleman said.
Walls are lined with vintage signs, photos of old vehicles and other Route 66 memorabilia. Coleman built an outdoor patio last summer.
At a glance
What: Weezy’s Route 66 Bar & Grill
Where: 108 S. Old Route 66, Hamel (intersection of Illinois 140 and 157)
Kitchen: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays
Bar: Usually open until midnight or 1 a.m.
Seating: About 75 at tables and booths and another 10 at the bar
Handicap accessible: No
Information: Call 633-2228
On the menu
Traditional breakfast with two eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns or American fries and toast, $4.95.
Belgian waffles, $3.50 or $5 with fresh strawberry topping and whipped cream.
Charbroiled burger, quarter-pound on a toasted bun, $3.95 with chips or $5.45 with sweet potato fries.
Daily specials, ranging from smoked pork chops to mostaccioli, fried chicken on Wednesdays and catfish or cod on Fridays, $4.95 to $5.95.
BY TERI MADDOX – News-Democrat