The Beermosa next time: Bicycling to Delavan’s Harvest Cafe

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Took a 24-mile roundtrip from southwest of Tremont, Illinois, to Delavan for breakfast at Libby Mathers’ Harvest Cafe. This is the first time we’ve visited by tandem.

No bike rack, but an outstanding view from the table inside to the bicycle outside. You’ll notice I used a cable lock, mostly out of habit. Not really worried about theft here. Instead, the cable does a good job of keeping the Co-Motion from falling over in a breeze.

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Nearby: Farm-to-table scrambled eggs. The responsible chicken is a local.

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Decisions, decisions. Must go back for the Beermosa, though the idea of it kind of reminds me of a line from Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.

“If a man ordered a beer milkshake he’d better do it in a town where he wasn’t known.”

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When you ride through the business district of small towns in central Illinois, you see your share of buildings ignored by residents and time alike. The second floors might look like they did in the 1890s–if the windows haven’t been bricked in or boarded over–but the first floors tell sad and depressingly common stories of artless modification: maybe a 1950s space-age modernization or a more recent attack perpetrated by a blind roofer who decided to try a more vertical approach.

The Harvest Cafe and its sister businesses, Hometown Wine & Spirits, The Exchange Public Saloon and (maybe this fall) the Thomas Mathers Distillery, benefit from a different approach to small-town real estate: the liberal application of money and, even more importantly, taste.

The renovated exteriors eliminate all trace of the past century’s architectural indignities, and the interiors fulfill the promise that each facade makes to passersby, even though they are almost entirely new (the Cafe’s tin ceiling looks impressively authentic to my unpracticed eye).

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This is small-town Main Street (actually, Locust Street) done right: the right businesses, at the right time, with the right goal: a quality customer experience.

I remember riding to Delavan in the 1970s and wondering why I bothered. There wasn’t any place to get breakfast.

Today, breakfast is just for starters.

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About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
This entry was posted in Business, Report from the road and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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