ST. CHARLES – Sixty years after opening its doors, Colonial Cafe's location at 1625 E. Main St. in St. Charles continues to serve up smiles.
The restaurant launched in October 1959. Back then, the menu featured 11 sandwiches, french fries, soup of the day, chili and the Colonial ice cream sundaes and shakes.
“After much success of my father’s ‘Snappy Snack’ concept of serving a limited menu of 16-cent ‘Tasty Burgers’ and 10 cent ‘Krispy Fries,’ he decided to expand the offerings and open up the Colonial Ice Cream and Sandwich Shop at 1625 E. Main in St. Charles,” Colonial Cafe Board Chairman Tom Anderson said. “I worked here as a teenager and haven’t stopped working for Colonial Café since!”
His late father, Joe K. Anderson, opened the restaurant, which is one of five Colonial Cafe locations in operation. The company's roots go back to 1901, after Simon Anderson bought a milk route for $100. Today, they also operate a restaurant on St. Charles' west side at 552 S. Randall Road, as well as restaurants in Aurora, Algonquin and Naperville.
"It's a great celebration being in one location for 60 years," said fourth-generation Colonial Cafe President Clinton Anderson, the son of Tom Anderson.
Longtime Colonial Cafe customer Dawn Norton Root has many connections to the business. Her maiden name is Norton and her family operates Norton Farm, located near St. Charles.
"Both my grandfathers, Dexter Norton Sr. and Benjamin Graf, had dairy farms and took their milk to the plant store to be made into ice cream," she said.
Root worked at Colonial's former plant store in downtown St. Charles, where the ice cream was manufactured. She also met her husband, Reid, through her job. Her boss, Corrine Root, was Reid's mother.
"She set us up," Dawn Norton Root said.
She has been a customer at the restaurant on East Main Street all her life.
"I love the family that runs it," she said. "And I try to frequent local businesses that are run by local people. And their food tastes great."
On display in the restaurant are photos showing how it has changed over the years. And as he will tell you, Colonial Cafe doesn't just sell ice cream these days.
"We're 90 percent food," Clinton Anderson said. 'We're a full-service restaurant and then we also happen to have ice cream desserts. Now we have more than 110 menu items."
Colonial Cafe offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. In December, Colonial Cafe plans to launch a promotion emphasizing that customers can order breakfast any time of the day.
"Brinner is breakfast for dinner," Clinton Anderson said. "We serve breakfast all day. Come in for breakfast and have it at dinner."
Those who dare to try the restaurant's World Famous Kitchen Sink will receive a bumper sticker for finishing it. The sinfully sweet treat is comprised of two whole bananas, six scoops of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream, and toppings of chocolate, pineapple and strawberry, then covered with whipped cream, toasted almonds and a cherry.
The time it takes someone to finish the treat varies.
"There's some fast folks out there and some who like to enjoy each flavor," Clinton Anderson said.
Those looking to eat something healthy also have plenty of options, including a quinoa breakfast bowl.
"It is very popular and tasty," Tom Anderson said. "You can have quinoa instead of hash browns. And it's gluten-free."
Given that it's October, the menu also features plenty of fall features as well, including pumpkin spice pancakes, Bavarian sausage platter and pumpkin spice lattes. Before adding an item to the restaurant's menu, a tasting process takes place.
"We want to be proud of what we're serving," Tom Anderson said.
They also like meeting their customers and finding out about how their experience has been.
"We are constantly getting feedback and constantly trying to improve," Clinton Anderson said.
Tom Anderson, who is 77, is quite comfortable in that role, given that he started working at the restaurant as a teen.
"I started doing that 60 years ago in this place as part of the opening crew as a teenager," he said.
More information about Colonial Cafe can be found at colonialcafe.com.