Monday, December 19, 2011

Merichka's-The Restaurant That Keeps Me Coming Back Like a Boomerang By: Pam Turlow

Pam is a voice over artist and writer. Her hobbies include traveling, vintage amusement parks, Mid-Century modernism, tarot, and Barbies. Pam dines out not only to delve into an exciting new world of tastes but stimulating all of her senses. She appreciates the smells, tastes, aromas, sounds and "tactile thingies" of each restaurant. South Indian cuisine tops her list of favorite foods.

I love Googie architecture.  If you're not familiar, it's that Mid-century, slightly kitschy form of design that was all the rage in the 1950s.  Full of boomerangs and kidney shapes and starbursts, its height of popularity coincided with interest in space travel and all its trappings: rockets, atomic energy, parabolas, flying saucers.  George Jetson lived in a Googie world.

Designed by original owner Joe Zdralevich, a former graphic designer, the signage outside Merichka's restaurant in south suburban Crest Hill is shaped like a boomerang.  The reasoning: because they wanted customers to keep coming back.  And it's worked now for decades.  Well, the fact that the food is delish and the atmosphere is a homey time capsule dated back to 1957 doesn't hurt matters one iota.

On a typical visit to Merichka's, I usually do the following: venerate the rockin' cool aforementioned boomerang sign, settle in and order a Steak Poor Boy sandwich with garlic butterine, and opt for the dinner, thus availing myself to the double-baked potato that has no business being this incredible, a salad, cracker basket, and the relish tray featuring three cold relishes (just like my Aunt Mary Ann would bring to Sunday dinner at Grandma Pauline's house back in the late 60s, but without the customary argument after the pinochle game).

You'd also do wise to belly up to the vintage bar, pay your respects to the stuffed trophy fish mounted above it, and order a Cuba Libre.  I once ordered a Pink Squirrel - you can do that here and raise absolutely no eyebrows.

As long as Merichka's keeps that boomerang in play, and as long as they have some of the best comfort food in the greater Chicagoland area, I'll keep my Honda Civic-shaped rocket poised and ready for that return blast-off.

604 Theodore Street
Crest Hill, Illinois
(815) 723-9371


  1. Pam, thank you so very much for the wonderful write-up in your blog! My name is Joe Zdralevich III and I am part of the 4th generation here at Merichka's, and we are all so very grateful for the fantastic compliments! As you know being an independent restaurant (or any independent business) is not easy, especially in this economy. And we are always in competition with the big chains, so it is sooo nice to hear nice compliments, because all of our employees work very hard. I also know that my Grandfather (Joe Sr.) would sincerely appreciate your compliment of his "boomerang" design, as well as, of course, the food. We have, and always will, strive to stay original with our roots. Meaning we will never skimp on our quality of ingredients, and the way we treat others...We believe most people truly enjoy remembering and reminiscing about past years, and that is what we also strive to keep. Those memories that we all hold dear. That also means trying to keep the restaurant feeling the same, and not changing too much, although upgrades here and there are necessary. Once again myself and my family cannot thank you enough for the wonderful write-up on your blog and also for being a fantastic customer! Best wishes for you and your loved ones this holiday season!

  2. Hey! Thanks for posting this! I will alert my entire world!

  3. Hello Joe Zdralevich III! I'm honored that you enjoyed the review. Let me tell you - my friend Gail and I (who has relatives out near your restaurant) try to make at LEAST an annual pilgrimage to your business. It's heartening to visit a place that reverently holds its past while embracing its future. Here's to many more years of steak poor boys!!


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