Gemini Giant, Launching Pad restaurant to be auctioned

Gemini Giant in Wilmington

The future of the Gemini Giant on Route 66 in Wilmington, Illinois, is a lot cloudier after it was announced it and its restaurant will be sold at auction in April.

James Bednar of Bednar Auction Service told the Kankakee Daily Journal the unique, 30-foot-tall fiberglass giant and the long-closed Launching Pad restaurant will be sold in one transaction.

The Bednar auctions listing notes the property will be sold “as is” but comes with a $10,000 nonrefundable deposit and a 5 percent buyer’s premium. The auction will be held at the premises at noon April 8.

Bednar noted whoever buys the property, if the minimum reserve is met, “has the right to do whatever they want with it.”

Bednar has heard city officials have been considering some kind of incentive to keep the giant and attract a new business.

City attorney Tony Graff said no formal incentive proposal has been presented, but options will be explored.

The auction company can be contacted so prospective buyers can make appointments for on-site inspections.

The Launching Pad and Gemini Giant were inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 2000. It long has been one of the biggest photo opportunities for Route 66 travelers.

John and Betty Korelc opened a Dairy Delite at the site in 1960. It was renamed the Launching Pad after an expansion in 1965. The Gemini Giant landed there in 1965 after John Korelc saw a Muffler Man during a restaurant convention. Most Muffler Men were cowboys or lumberjacks. Korelc had his specially made so it looked liked an astronaut. John Korelc retired in 1986.

Morey Szczecin bought the property in 2007 after longtime owners Jerry and Sharon Gatties retired. But the restaurant struggled, closed in 2010 and was put up for sale for $650,000, with no takers.

(Image of the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois, by Sam Johnson via Flickr)

2 thoughts on “Gemini Giant, Launching Pad restaurant to be auctioned

  1. Could be a gold mine if only they served good and unique food. The kind of food featured on diners, drive ins, and dives or man vs food or best restarants on food network. It would keep people coming back and a must stop for Rte 66 enthusiasts. When I lived in Wilmington the food was crap at that place. That’s why it did not do well.

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