Saturday, August 11, 2007

Breakfast and the Morning Headlines

Many generations of the Barritt clan have decended on America's heartland for a family wedding. I've driven a rented Chevy Impala past mile after mile of glistening corn stalks accompanied by my brothers and a car radio that insists on switching to a hip-hop station, no matter how often I try to program classical.

With the journey finally completed, we are able to settle in and enjoy reconnecting with relatives of every age. After a sound night's sleep, assisted by what was perhaps the largest strawberry marguerita ever prepared in history, I awake to explore the area and find a spot for breakfast.

I've recently abandoned my paper version of the "New York Times" in favor of the Times Reader online edition. It feels "green" and I have fewer old newspapers to dispose of. So I am intriqued by the Courier Cafe at 111 N. Race Street in Urbana, Illinois. A popular weekend breakfast spot, the building was once the home of Urbana's first daily newspaper.

Well before Urbana ever considered what news was fit to print, the location was actually the site of a 2 room log cabin, built by William Tompkin in 1837. But fifty years later, the study brick building now on the site was the center of the news business of the day, and "The Champaign County Herald" was first published in 1877. Like many news organizations, The Courier eventually fell on hard times and shut its doors on March 31, 1979.

In the 21st century, the headline is all about food, and the Courier Cafe, which opened in November, 1980 does a thriving business, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We are seated in a charming wood paneled booth, and are fascinated by the decor, which includes many of the original characteristics of the building, and transports us to a bygone era.

Faded yellow editons of "The Courier" are preserved in a glass case.

The "Courier Clock" is a "master clock" built in 1925 and considered the most accurate timepiece of its day.

The Palace Chandelier was saved from the Palace Opera House in Eirie, Pennsyvania before it was demolished and casts a golden glow over the room.

A "Fan-O-Plane" from the 1930s blows cool breezes over the morning diners.

BREAKING NEWS: The Banana Walnut Pancakes are fluffy and golden with fresh slices of fruit and a nutty crunch. I drizzle the warm plate with syrup, take bite, and I am ready to spread the news!

©2007 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Lydia said...

What a lovely discovery, and how nice of your family to gather so that you could find this cafe!

veron said...

this is indeed an interesting restaurant...but I'm really eyeing that yummy stack of pancakes!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Those pancakes are sinful, T.W.! So fluffy!

Susan said...

Oh, I want to go there pancakes now! How long of a ride do you think it would be. ;)

delilahboyd said...

I first noticed The Courier Cafe while walking down the street from a parking place to Jumer's.

The Courier's entryway was so small that people often had to wait outside to get in. And the food was so good that the lines got quite long, even in brutal Central Illinois winter weather.

Inside, the place was comfortable, and you could buy baked goods when you paid your bill (Is it still the same today? I live in DC now).

The Courier was one of my favorite places in Illinois.

Thanks for the memory!


T.W. Barritt said...

Delilah - thanks for visiting. The Courier Cafe still sells tempting bakery items at the front counter. And, the line is just as long in the summer, although the weather is more cooperative!