Route 66 in the News

Riviera Roadhouse Reopens

2009-12-15 09:09:00

BRAIDWOOD, Ill. - The kicks are back at a famous Route 66 roadhouse. The Riviera has re-opened for business, nearly one year after former owners Bob and Peggy Kraft had to close the doors on the 80-year-old business.

The Krafts sold the business last year, citing that the time had come for the couple, who had run the business for decades, to retire. After a rocky start to the reopening, the doors are now open seven days a week, treating locals and Route 66 travelers to a piece of the past.

Tracy Stover is managing the historical roadhouse, but the job is hardly a new one. Stover has been working at the Riviera for 29 years. Since it closed last year, Stover said she's missed the joint.

"To me, sitting at home, I was craving the Riviera," Stover said, adding that the spot was sorely missed by young and old alike. "I don't know how to explain it. These kids live on this."

Stover is not the only familiar face at the door either. Becky, a waitress for the past 26 years, is also back at the restaurant. Former owner "Happy Happy Bobby" will also make an occasional return to tend bar. Even some less obvious friends have returned for the re-opening.

"We've got our friendly ghost here, Charlie," Stover said of the famed spirit that roams the halls of the Riviera. "He just likes to take things and move them and hide them."

Stover said customers can expect to see few changes at the Route 66 favorite. Stover is already building the menu, and hopes to bring most of Peggy Kraft's famous dishes back. The restaurant is already serving spaghetti, chicken and cheese bread, and plans to have ribs available in time for New Year's Eve.

There were some ups and downs reopening the joint. The restaurant did manage to open its doors for a few days over the summer, but had to close again to get some business details hammered out. Now that the place is open, however, Stover said she looks forward to getting back to business as usual.

"I'm just looking forward to bringing back the old people, bringing back the history," Stover said. "Bring back the old history of the heyday. This is a speakeasy house, I don't want to see it die. I want to see Bob and Peg carry on. We want to keep the retro up, and in summer time, we want to have the shows out front, the old cars and Route 66 theme."

~Marney Simon,


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