Porkies celebrates quarter-century in Silvis


Share
Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012, 11:50 am
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com
SILVIS — Folks have been pigging out at Porkies for 25 years.

"This is the original one, and the last one standing," co-owner and manager Roger Pulford said Friday. '"We're just tickled to death we've been here this long."

Nov. 1 was the actual anniversary date, but staff members and customers celebrated the event a couple months ago when the weather was nicer, Mr. Pulford said.

At one time, Porkies had restaurants in East Moline, Rock Island and Milan, but only the Silvis location remains. And it's been in the same building the whole time, he said.

Before it was Porkies, it was a Mr. Quick restaurant owned by the late Lee Womack, he said.

"Mr. Womack passed away about 11 years ago," said Mr. Pulford, who, along with co-owner Bruce Petersen, of Bettendorf, has kept Porkies running ever since.

Mr. Pulford first was hired as an assistant manager, coming from Greenbriar Restaurant and Lounge, which was owned by his second cousin, Jack Pulford.

"I wouldn't know what else to do but the restaurant business, after this long," Roger Pulford said. "I have a 10-year plan. I'm turning 50, and want to make it another 10 years."

His dream then is to write a book of stories former employees used when calling in sick and unusual complaints customers have shared over the years, he said.

Mr. Pulford recalled how one employee kept using the excuse that her grandmother had died, "but she ran out of grandmas," he said. "I told her once, 'I think you've lost about five grandmas now,'" he said.

Mr. Pulford gets up at 3 a.m. on business days to open the restaurant at 5:30 a.m. for the breakfast crowd. Breakfast and lunch are served until 11 a.m., and then Porkies, perhaps best known for its giant pork tenderloin, remains open until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and until 7 p.m. on Saturdays.

"We're closed Sunday for God — for the Lord's Day," Mr. Pulford said.

The struggling economy also makes the restaurant business difficult, he said.

But he credits Porkies' success to loyal customers and employees.

"I'd say 80 percent of our business is from regular customers," Mr. Pulford said, as he looked around the restaurant, saying he knew every single customer Friday morning.

"Many of my staff has been with me for a long time," he said. "I haven't had to hire anyone in the past three years, and some of my staff has been here for as long as 14 years or so. This is truly a family atmosphere."

It truly has a "piggy" atmosphere, too.

"Chef Porkie" pictures decorate the place, and pig-inspired wallpaper trim hang around the restaurant's interior. Door chimes also come in the shape of a pig, and signs advertise the availability of "Hog Wash" drinks.

Visitors to Porkies also are welcomed by "Elroy," a pig statue in Porkies' front yard next to outdoor signs promoting the day's food specials. Elroy was given to Porkies "by a group of Harley guys," Mr. Pulford said. "We had a naming contest, and the name 'Elroy' was chosen."

It was in honor of one of the "hog-riding" contributors, Mr. Pulford said.

He's gotten a lot of pig-themed memorabilia from his customers over the past 25 years, and it is scattered throughout the restaurant. He remembers once being asked for a Porkies coffee mug one of his customers wanted to use to store his father's ashes.

Mr. Pulford also still enjoys wearing the store's Chef Porkie mascot costume every once in a while, saying it's always fun to see reactions he gets from kids — squeals of delight, no doubt.
















 



Local events heading








  Today is Thursday, July 24, the 205th day of 2014. There are 160 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The Rev. R.J. Humphrey, once a clergyman in this city, was reported killed in a quarrel in New Orleans.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rock Island Citizens Improvement Association held a special meeting to consider the proposition of consolidating Rock Island and Moline.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The home of A. Freeman, 806 3rd Ave., was entered by a burglar while a circus parade was in progress and about $100 worth of jewelry and $5 in cash were taken.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The million dollar dredge, Rock Island, of the Rock Island district of United States engineers will be in this area this week to deepen the channel at the site of the new Rock Island-Davenport bridge.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Argus "walked" to a 13-0 victory over American Container Corporation last night to clinch the championship of Rock Island's A Softball League at Northwest Douglas Park.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Immediate Care Center emergency medical office at South Park Mall is moving back to United Medical Center on Sept. 1. After nearly six years in operation at the mall, Care Center employees are upset by UMC's decision. The center is used by 700 to 800 people each month.








(More History)