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Smokey's: Mid-American as it comes

Dispatch/Argus Photo By Chuck Thomas

Sherrie Gray, a waitress at Smokey's Maid Rite in Colona, delivers a fresh sandwich to customer Billie Lannan, East Moline, during the lunch rush.

COLONA -- Smokey's Maid-Rite is a throwback. The menu says so.

It still says Green Rock, which merged with Colona and disappeared off the map a few months ago.

The restaurant is one of several local ones that offer the famous loose meat ``Maid-Rite'' sandwiches that fall apart when you eat them. Like the sign says, ``since 1926.''

Smokey's is a blue-collar diner in a blue-collar town. Pickup trucks line the parking lot and flannel and seed caps are the fashion statement inside.

Cops and repairmen eat alongside families and men in suits and ties. Friends are recognized and greeted from across the room.

Neon signs advertise ``lunch & dinner,'' ``breakfast,'' ``tacos,'' and ``giant cheeseburgers.'' There obviously is more than Maid-Rites and ``cheese-rites'' on the menu.

An all-you-can-eat buffet dominates the center of one dining area, offering everything from salad, soup, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy and fried chicken to spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and do-it-yourself tacos.

The menu is as middle-America as it comes. Country-fried steak, tenderloins, Aunt Judy's cole slaw, and hot beef sandwiches are offered, as well as basic breakfasts of eggs and sausage. Pies sit in a refrigerated display case waiting for a dollop of ice cream.

Diners cruise the menu while sitting in red vinyl booths. There also are tables and a lunch counter. The menu and decor harks back to the days of ``The Fonz.'' As you listen to tunes from the '50s and '60s, you expect to see Potsy and Ralph bop in the door.

Mounted on one wall are 45 records from years gone by. There also are posters saluting icons like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and The Beatles.

Classic cars are not forgotten either. An airbrushed rendering of a '57 Chevy dominates one wall, while posters of Chevys and Corvettes are spread throughout the diner. There even is some cheesecake on display -- beautiful blondes draped over Harley-Davidsons in one poster.

If you're looking for a slice of Americana, stop in at Smokey's, or any other Maid-Rite for that matter. Friendly and efficient waitresses will be happy to serve it up -- a la mode.

-- By Kurt Allemeier (February 2, 1998)

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