The Maid Rite Sandwich Shop in Springfield, Illinois is located on one of the multiple Route 66 that pass through this town…. There’s more than one, because of changes to the route over time. This restaurant is on the National Register of Historic Places and claims to have invented the concept of the drive-through-window, although that doesn’t quite jive with the corporate history of the chain as written up by wikipedia.
According to the guy who owns and runs this place, who I got to talk to, this is the restaurant that invented the idea of the drive-through window. It is in what was originally the caboose of a train where they took the wheels off.
The caboose was built in 1881, The building has been here since 1919 and it had a gas station in the front originally. It was registered as a business in 1924 which is when the tax system came into tax businesses. They’ve been selling loose meat sandwiches since 1919, and from the beginning the layout was as it is now, with sandwiches either being sold direct from the kitchen through the side window, or to customers at the bar. (Later, they expanded sideways and added more indoor seating.) Remember how on the Rosanne TV show, how her shop sold a loose meat sandwich… the Conners live in the mythical town of Lanford IL, which is supposed to be somewhere around here. This is the first place I have ever been to that had it. So of course I had to try it, it is not a sloppy Joe it’s different, they call it a sloppy Joe with no sauce. It was homemade pie, their maid-rite sandwich (loose meat), and homemade root beer which they still make.
Now that I’m not in the building anymore it was not very tasty. The root beer was VERY good, but the loose meat…. the primary flavor was salt with a second flavor underneath it that I could not quite identify… it was some sort of spice. The guy as a hint said the woman who invented it was originally from Hungary, and that no it was not paprika, but the taste was really familiar I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I timed it right because they were closing up just as I was getting ready to leave