I’ve got quite a bit of personal history with Maurie’s of Pekin. I started going there in the ‘70’s, mainly to buy candy and rock ‘n roll magazines and yes, once in a while a Playboy or Penthouse made its way into my stack of reading material—for you younger people out there, this was in the days before internet porn, a strange, one-handed, era, but that’s a whole different blog! Anyway, three years ago, after not having been in Maurie’s for decades, I decided to go back for a post right here on MBIP and well, I kind of struck out and was treated pretty rudely. You can read about that visit right here. A couple of years later, I heard that someone had purchased Maurie’s and was starting to update and revamp the store. I went and this time I got a great tour of the place from the current owner, Lelonie Luft and you can check out that post by clicking right here. She told me back then she wanted to reinvent the store while keeping the old charm of Maurie’s intact. Well, I recently spoke to Lelonie and it sounds like her transformation of Maurie’s is somewhat complete and I’m anxious to see what she’s done with the place. And so I think it’s time for a little road trip to Pekin!
As I walked out of MBIP World Headquarters, I saw this vehicle sitting outside, that looks like a perfect ride for our trip today, so let’s get in and see who our driver is who will be taking us over the river and through the woods to Pekin...
Why it’s none other than Bob Gordon! MBIP pal, Contributing Writer and owner of Acme Comics. And he brought me a present, it’s a book called Bad Little Children’s Books and it’s an hilarious parody book filled with covers of bad children’s books. It’s done in the old National Lampoon style and you can read more about it here! Thanks, Bob! And now it’s onwards and upwards to...
Pekin, Illinois! Maurie’s is located in the heart of Pekin on Court Street and here we are! Maurie’s has been standing in this spot for over 75 years! It’s great that it’s getting a new lease on life, let’s go in and check it out!
As soon as I step in I see a familiar face, it’s Lelonie, who is the owner of Maurie’s and has been working hard to revitalize the shop and make it a new place while retaining the charm of days gone by. She said we could have a look around and so here we go!
Maurie’s of Pekin is divided up into three sections once you walk in. This is the first part you see when you walk in the front door.
Right off the bat you can see there’s a Slush Puppy machine and homemade caramel corn behind the front counter. As you move along there’s homemade caramel apples in one of the front cases and they look so good! These are seasonal and Maurie's just started making them again and they’ll be available all fall. I love the vintage hot nuts machine and display and as you travel towards the back of the front room, there’s all kinds of jelly beans and candies in jars. Magazines and books line the book case that runs along the wall and there’s Bob checking that out. Hey, Bob, you going to buy that or just treat this place like your personal library! Sheesh!
Off to the left of the front door is a sweet spot at Maurie’s...
It’s the room with most of the candy in it! There’s homemade candies of all kinds here in the cases and you can get them packed up in specially designed Maurie’s boxes. It’s a great gift for people in the area and for those that have moved away and you want to send them a little sweet taste of Central Illinois for a gift.
And as you can see, there’s even more candy to be had outside of the cases in the room. There’s all kinds of vintage candy you remember as a kid and newfangled items as well. The selection here is the biggest in Pekin and beyond. If your sweet tooth can’t meet it’s desire here, it needs to be pulled! There’s also Melissa and Doug toys over here in the corner of this room.
Okay, now it’s time to check out this room over here and this is the spot I was most anxious to see. They’ve turned this room into a coffee bar and cafe with ice cream and breakfast and luncheon entrees, let’s go take a look...
Wow, this is an unbelievable transformation since the last time I was here! I love the wooden ceiling and dangling lights and the brick wall in here. Up front there’s a lounge area that features the original Maurie’s sign from decades ago. Lelonie got it refurbished and now it’s back to all of its lit-up glory! Very cool! There’s also a wall of bottled, craft soda in here including Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sodas! I guess this is the Billy Beer of this century!
Here’s a shot from the back of the room and you can see the impressive wooden counter in here, which was made by scratch for the shop. There’s sweet treats in this room too including fresh pastries, cupcakes and Uncle Bob’s homemade ice cream. As you can see from the signs on the counter, there’s a wide array of coffee available here and you can relax with your coffee and food at a table or at one of the comfortable desks in the back corner.
They serve breakfast and lunch over here and Bob and I were getting ready to order, but this fellow was in front of us. It’s Tyler who lives here in Pekin and told us he’s a semi-regular here at Maurie’s cafe. Nice to meet him, but now it’s time for our turn to order...
And there’s Ashlee and Shelly behind the counter taking our order. They have a nice selection of sandwiches and salads here as well as breakfast items and you can check out the menu right here. We ordered and before you know it, there’s Lelonie with our sandwiches, that’s fantastic service!
Bob got the Turkey Club Panini and he said it was great and it looked really tasty! But check out my sandwich, Shelly suggested I try the Grilled Monte Cristo and this is one unique sandwich and I can guarantee you can only get it at Maurie’s! It’s thick cut, French Toast dipped bread with ham, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise and spicy mustard. The bread is sprinkled with powdered sugar and it’s served with a side of strawberry preserves for dipping the sandwich in. At first I resisted dipping the sandwich, but then Lelonie talked me into it and it was such a fantastic melding of flavors! The combination of sweet and savory works so well with this sandwich and it creates a flavor that you’ve never experienced before. But if you’re like me, you will want one again very soon! Trust me, you need to try this sandwich out at least once in your life!
On the way out I tried taking a shot of the store via this security mirror and got one of my favorite all-time unplanned oblgatory mirror shots! I love it when that happens! Thanks to Lelonie, Shelly and Ashlee for a great lunch and a wonderful time at Maurie’s of Pekin. You should go and experience this shop and cafe, if you live in Peoria, it’s just a 20 minute drive away! Thanks to Bob for driving and for the Bad Little Chidlren’s Book! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
Happy Birthday To Diane!
Today we have yet another birthday to add to our September parade of birthdays! The birthday girl for this fine day of September 22nd is none other than my friend, Diane, who I met through my friend Amber, who’s kind of responsible for all these September birthday posts. Because without meeting Amber, I wouldn’t have met our past September birthday people that include, Joe, Danielle and Jon. And I certainly wouldn’t have met Diane without meeting Amber, because Diane is Amber’s mom and she’s also one of the nicest and coolest people I’ve ever met. That’s her pictured below with Amber on the right and her husband, Chuck on the left.
She’s always got a beautiful smile and a nice word for everyone and I’m always excited and happy to see her! I’m very pleased to wish her a Happy Birthday today! Happy Birthday, Diane, we all love you and hope you have a fun-filled day and evening and I hope to see you soon! Cheers to you and thanks for being a friend!