Thursday, March 31, 2016

News From Along Route 66, February 2016: Auction of the Launching Pad in Wilmington, Illinois

FEBRUARY 27--  The Gemini Giant, Launching Pad restaurant in Wilmington, Illinois, is to be auctioned in April.  It has been closed for a long time and will be sold as is.  The auction will be held on premises on April 8.

The Launching Pad Restaurant was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 2000.

The giant muffler man/astronaut was, and still is a big photo op for anyone driving along Route 66.

John and Betty Korck opened Dairy Delite on the site in 1960 and renamed it the Launching Pad after it expanded in 1965 (and to take advantage of the U.S. NASA Space Program.  John saw a muffler man at a restaurant convention and had one specially made to look like an astronaut.  They retired in 1986.

Morey Szczecin bought the property in 2007 from Jerry and Sharon Gatties but the restaurant struggled and closed for good in 2010.  They put it up for sale then, asking $650,000 but had no takers.

I am sure glad we had the opportunity to eat there while it was still open.  Great food.  However, it was so close to the Polka Dot in Braidwood, you would be too full to eat at both.

Here's hoping that someone buys it and keeps it as a restaurant and with "The Gemini Giant."

If not, the town of Wilmington should buy the muffler man.

Sad to See It Go.  --RoadDog


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