Riviera set to close after New Year’s Day

A Route 66 icon, The Riviera Restaurant, in Gardner, Ill., is set to close after many years.

Here’s an e-mail from Route 66 advocate Lenore Weiss:

The health and ages of  Bob & Peggy Kraft, our most gracious host and hostess of the Riviera for over 36 years, are forcing them to close the doors.  Unfortunately no buyer could be found.

The final day of full service will be New Year’s Eve.  Then, on New Year’s Day, they will again serve food one last time at a reduced rate to use up supplies and still offer their delicious entrees.  There will be bar service on New Year’s Eve (Most of us can remember Bobby and his “Happy, happy!”) but not on New Year’s Day.

The hours for December are Tuesday through Sunday, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Food is served from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  They are closed on Mondays.  Phone 815-237-2344.


Perhaps you too can create one last bittersweet memory for yourself and others …

The Riviera opened in 1928 and has had just two owner-operators the entire time. It was known as a hangout for Chicago crime boss Al Capone before he was imprisoned.

Here’s a bit of history about the place by roadie Guy Randall:

Once movie legends Gene Kelly and Tom Mix regularly stopped here. […] Slot machines and booze were offered to the discrete customer during prohibition. In fact, there’s a freezer in the basement with a heavy iron door that was used to hide booze and gambling machines in case of a raid.

I was in the Riviera one time a few years ago, and did meet the Krafts. It’s a great old subterranean bar with stalagtites on the ceiling, and Bob Kraft is as good and friendly of a bartender as you’ll find.

(Photo courtesy of Guy Randall.)

6 thoughts on “Riviera set to close after New Year’s Day

  1. It’s really too bad someone hasn’t picked this place up. I, too, have only managed one stop but I remember a fun time and good food in interesting surroundings. There are definitely some stories in those walls. There is a restored trolley car turned diner behind the building which I guess will become something of an orphan.

  2. Thanks for alerting us. I’ll have to go one last time. I’ve just got to hear Bob Kraft tell us again why he is the luckiest guy in the world.

    We’ve been disappointed the last several times to find that he was no longer at his usual station behind the bar.

    Here’s hoping someone keeps it going.

  3. The Riviera is Opened again, Bob & Peggy Kraft my in laws ironically sold it to another owner who’s name is Bob. After some renovations and new code updates, for now they are opened while some other requirements are being ironed out The Riveria has the same great recipies along with some new ones, Tracy the cook from previously is now the Manager and the waitresses Becky and Kathy are still there with some new employee additions. Bobby will be there ocassionally to serve you a cold one and mom will make sure the kitchen is going almost the same lol. The Main objective is to keep the place open & operational and to preserve its history while we work thru the rig a morrow and the buracuracy. I have been there and worked there on occasion and am glad to see the new and old customers returning. If you havent been by the Riveria its a must see and eat, Also the historic Street car is still there if you get a chance to stop by its a must see also. Thank you all for the support, Lets keep the Riveria going.

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