Route 66 in the News

Weitz Cafe Part of Route 66 Lore

2012-08-01 08:01:14

BRAIDWOOD, Ill. - It was post World War II America and the country was rebounding after four years of war.

The Mother Road, Route 66, was a main artery that helped our country win the war. This re-awakening was to be the source of national economic growth in each of its thousands of cities, towns and villages.

A small Illinois community then was Braidwood, Ill. It was there, in around 1947, that a family venture called Weitz Café was opened on a then-thriving Route 66. It was a second venture for two brothers, Conrad and Frank, whose original business was in nearby Morris, Ill., on its historic Liberty Street.

Following is the text of a hand-written letter we received from Rosemary D. Weitz, dated Aug. 8, 2011:

Thank you for the framed picture of the Weitz Café at Braidwood, on the old Route 66. Conrad Weitz (Paul’s father – my husband) was one of the Weitz brothers (there were three – Herb, Frank and Conrad) – (Conrad was known as Connie). They are all dead now.

Route 66 was (as you know) the very highly traveled highway from Chicago west to California prior to the present highway system. Route 66 was almost bumper to bumper traffic (mostly two lane) west toward California.

After Conrad (Paul’s Dad) returned from 3 1/2 years in the Army during World War II, he and his brothers leased the empty Braidwood building from John and Patsy Rossi, who literally owned everything in that little village, with the exception of the Catholic Church!!

They furnished it with new restaurant equipment. Because of its limited size (as I recall) it only seated about 35. There was a long counter with stools and also tables for four. There was a kitchen in the basement, and a fry cook on the first floor. His name was John, and he was super efficient.

Because Route 66 was almost bumper to bumper, the business was “standing room only” and profitable. Much of the prepared food was done in the Morris Weitz Café, where they had a big staff, pastry cook, etc. It was transported every morning to the Braidwood restaurant in a little red truck, which had been equipped with shelves, etc. for the prepared food.

When the road changed, Route 66 lost its traffic to the present Route 55. Weitzes sold the Braidwood business.

Frank Weitz moved to Peoria and opened another restaurant. Herb and Conrad remained in Morris. They sold the Morris place in 1971. Herb retired and Conrad went into the brokerage business in Joliet. However, they are all dead now.

I’m happy you found it interesting. Thank you for the picture.

Sincerely, Rosemary Weitz

Route 66 lost another Route 66 icon family member when Rosemary D. Weitz passed from this earth on May 25, 2012, at the age of 92. We had the privilege last year to meet and interview Mrs. Weitz with her devoted son, Paul, and discuss the story and stories of the Weitz Café on Route 66 (Routes 129 and 113) in Braidwood. This building is now recycled to use as a laundromat.

Pictures tell a lot and these included circa early 1950s and present (2012) tell the story in part. Mrs. Weitz’s letter to us is printed with permission of her son, Paul. We are honored to tell this story and re-print her beautiful letter. These are the stories that help keep the road alive and they have to be captured in print for future generations.

~Marty and Geri Bilecki, MorrisDailyHerald.com

 

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