Those who came to the soon to be closed Andy’s Diner in Pekin were more than just customers, they were like family, a family that had, in some cases, been having meals at the eatery for decades.
On Sunday, Pekinites will bid farewell to the local landmark that’s been located at 1001 N. 8th St. since 1956. During the final days of operation, the diner will be open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Original owner Andy Krakos opened three restaurants in Peoria in the early 1950s and had established two eateries in Pekin before his death in 1967. Of Krakos’ five restaurants, only Andy’s remains, operating as a 1950s-style breakfast-lunch establishment with seating and a collection of nostalgic framed pictures on the wall. Pekinites Tom and Lisa Poole, who have owned the restaurant for about eight years, decided to close permanently because Lisa has accepted employment running the kitchen at the West Dublin Pub in Pekin.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and getting to know them,” said Lisa Poole. “I like waiting tables, and I also like cooking. I’ve been in food service since I was 19. Tom and I both really enjoyed the time we’ve been here. The customers have been like family. We see a lot of them every day, so we get to know their day-to-day lives. We know what some of them eat and drink every day, so when they come in, we already know what they’re going to order. They’re not just our customers, they’re our friends. We really appreciate the loyalty and support Pekin has shown us over the last eight years. It means a lot to us that so many people have been coming in this week to give us a send-off.”
Tina Poole, Andy’s Diner cook, dishwasher and server, had nice things to say about her time at the diner: “I’ll miss the people here a lot. The customers and the people who work here have all been really great. I have liked everything about working here.”
Andy’s has traditionally depended on repeat business from regular customers, said Lisa Poole. The Pooles worked to recruit new business and keep their regulars by offering patrons a friendly, casual atmosphere, reasonable prices, and an imaginative menu that includes scrapple, grilled baby beef liver, and a dozen different omelets.
“All our food is fresh and homemade,” said Lisa. “That’s important to us. It’s also important to be friendly, and we greet customers as soon as they walk in the door. And our coffee is the best around.”
Customers like Judy Streid of Pekin will miss the cordial ambiance of Andy’s. A retired Pekin High School teacher as well as a regular patron, she relished a chance to interact with a former pupil in a comfortable setting.
“Tom was once my student,” said Streid. “I’d been coming here for years, and I was ecstatic when Tom and Lisa took over. So, I’ve been here almost every morning for breakfast since then.”
Former patron Sue Cheek of Ville Platte, La. recalled eating at Andy’s while she was living in Pekin. Having learned that the restaurant will close while she is visiting the area, she is planning to enjoy one last meal there.
“I’ll have to come by for one of their fantastic hamburgers before they close,” she said. “I haven’t had a burger as good as theirs anywhere.”