Old Route 66 Family Restaurant in Dwight genuinely puts the word “family” into its restaurant.
As the quality of food and service continues to earn the business awards, with two more honors accorded it this year: Among the Top Broasted Chicken in Illinois by:
and one of the top 10 cafes in Illinois from:
Old Rt. 66 Family Restaurant scored higher than the famous White Fence Farm in Romeoville.
Maria Ahmedi and her husband, Naser, are the “mom and pop” of the literal mom and pop operation, employing their son, Luan, and Luan’s wife, Malia; in addition to Maria and Naser’s daughters Lindita and Brendita.
Maria is the “face” of the restaurant, in the front greeting and serving customers.
Maria and Naser worked together for Maria’s father, known as Grandpa Jimmy, who was the first of the three-generation restaurant family.
The Ahmedi family opened the restaurant in Dwight, near the corner of Old Route 66 and Illinois Route 17 (Mazon Ave.) in Dwight on Nov. 5, 2001.
And although the family believes this year’s honors are well earned, this is not the first award the restaurant has been accorded.
On Aug. 4, 2016, the Dwight restaurant was named one of the top 10 restaurants along Route 66 from Illinois to California.
In 2017, the restaurant achieved the Best of Illinois by Illinois Country Living Magazine.
So what is the Ahmedi family secret? The family boils down to that simple recipe: good quality food and good service.
“You can’t have good food and poor service, or vice versa, ” said Luan, who helps in the kitchen and throughout the restaurant, does inventory and ordering, seven days a week.
Maria explained that many of the recipes are original family recipes from her father from 1977.
“Our family restaurant legacy originated in 1977 from Grandpa Jimmy,” a brochure about the restaurant states. “We use the same original recipes today that we did in ’77, from our seasoned hand-cut meats, homemade soups, coleslaw and mashed potatoes and gravy, which have been passed down for three generations.”
The family opened the Wishing Well Cafe in Odell from June 1993 to January 2003. In 2001, meantime, they purchased Stark’s Restaurant in Dwight and renovated it to become the Old Route 66 Family Restaurant that customers patronize to this day, 17 years later.
“Our family is humbled and honored by the great response and patronage throughout these remarkable years and look forward to many more years to come,” the brochure adds.
The food, being part of their secret formula for success, was recognized by Best Things Illinois.
“The old-school diner knows a thing or two about chicken,” the award said.
But it is even more than good food and service.
There is the added “atmosphere” including Route 66 souvenirs sold at the establishment, and lots of Route 66 signage and memorabilia along the walls.
“People always comment when they come in about the homey atmosphere,” Maria said – all things that go into quality, authentic “mom and pop” restaurant fare.
“We go the extra mile on Route 66,” Maria said with a smile.