Route 66 was constructed in 1926. Is it a coincidence that it begins right at Jackson/Jefferson – basically at the doorstep of Lou Mitchell’s? I’ll say: nope. Most likely the story goes like this:
Some guys are supposed to build a road, so they meet up in Chicago, a city known for inspiring road builders.
“Hello, Operator? Operator? Get me Jack/Jeff 355 on the line.”
“Hey Cyrus, it’s John! I’m in town so let’s get together for breakfast and discuss the road.”
“Cool cool, let’s meet at Lou Mitchell’s for bfast and pie. It’s been around for 3 years already, so that shit’s legit.”
“Cool, see you there.”
later that morning at Lou’s…
“Mornin’ boys. Grab a donut. Good to see you again, Cyrus. What’ll you have?”
“I’ll have the pecan pancakes, a cup of the world’s finest coffee, fried ham and a slice of cherry pie.”
“Lemme get some fries cooked in a cast iron skillet with a bunch of cheese on top along with the olive burger special since it features my fave, “gobs of green pimento olives.” And a side of homemade orange marmalade for my toast. And also a slice of pie. Cherry.”
“Yo John, are you done yet? Let’s catch a buggyhorse back to the Palmer House.”
“Dude, Cyrus, I’m so full. I can’t move. You’ll have to roll me out the front door.”
“WTF. I told you not to finish all those fries. I can’t pick you up. Let’s just start the road right here.”
“Done and done. Can you please bring me a glass of that quality drinking water? And another slice of cherry pie.”
I’d be willing to bet that every word of that discourse is true except, or course, for the donut part since they didn’t enter the scene until 1958 and were only for the ladies and children (offered as a sweet sign of Greek hospitality along with a box of Milk Duds too because Milk Duds were manufactured in Chicago by a good friend of Uncle Lou). #themoreyouknow
But free fresh donut holes, little boxes of Milk Duds, and the best cherry pie outside of Door County are still being offered at Lou Mitchell’s, where almost *almost* 100 years later the little diner is now sandwiched between skyscrapers yet still holding its own on one of the most famous highways in the country.