Sunday, February 28, 2016

"Sausage Kitchen has served area for nearly 60 years"

From The Journal

20 hours ago  • 
"RACINE — Like their regular customers, the Miller family boys just keep coming back to the Sausage Kitchen.

"The Sausage Kitchen, 1706 Rapids Drive, has been feeding north-side workers, neighbors, retirees and students since 1958. Situated a few blocks east of Horlick High School, the unpretentious combination sandwich shop, deli and grocery store has been a neighborhood fixture for almost six decades.

"The current operators are Dave and Pat Miller. Dave is the son of the original owners, the late Ted and Lil Miller.

"Originally the Sausage Kitchen had no seating area and was about half its present size. The family opened the eastern end in 1975, just as Ted was in the hospital, dying of cancer.

"'He never saw the restaurant,' Dave said. However, the family did film the new section — which they originally called the House of Sandwiches — and showed it to Ted at the hospital.

"The House of Sandwiches name for the 30-seat diner persisted until roughly 10 years ago, the Millers said, until they reunited both areas under the Sausage Kitchen name.

"Lee’s Deli, 2615 Washington Ave., was a Sausage Kitchen offshoot. Its founder, Lee Neu, worked at Sausage Kitchen from the time he was 'a kid' to about age 30, Dave said, then went off to start his own deli.

"Neu’s departure was Dave’s cue. Unbidden by his father, Dave quit college during his second year and rejoined the family business, sliding into Neu’s spot as assistant manager.

"Had he not, Dave said, 'I think I was going to be a teacher.'

"Not sounding very serious, he added, 'Every June 10 I’m irritated that I didn’t do that, because I would probably have the summer off.'

"The conclusion of Dave’s story about joining his father’s business involves his and Pat’s own son, Chris. 'I never asked Chris to come in,' Dave said.

"But just as Dave had, during Chris’ second year of college, he answered the Sausage Kitchen’s siren call, quit college and joined the family business.

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When I was a kid, my parents stopped by the deli regularly.  It had all sorts of weird shit like blood sausage and headcheese and very dark rye bread that my parents, as eastern Europeans, loved.  They'd also go to the original Houmann's Fish Market on State St. and buy shit like a small keg of herring.  I could never eat the stuff they did.

At the old apartment building, there was an elderly Polish man named Wes who took a liking to me.  Occasionally, he'd give me weird, exotic (to me) food he had picked up in Chicago while visiting his sister.  Talk about ethnic cuisine!  Because of my heritage, Wes assumed I would like the food.  I always thanked him profusely and then gave the food to my mother, who loved it.

Wes was also a rather little man who would occasionally get drunk and look for trouble in the lobby.  I saw him go up to a large black resident one time and start shouting, "Baboon! Baboon!" in the man's face.  The man could've swatted Wes like a fly, but he was cool enough to realize Wes was drunk and just ignored him.  Wes is a whole 'nother story.


Toad said...

Are you certain WES wasn't LES?

OrbsCorbs said...

It was actually Wesley, so that would make it Lesley? His last name was all hard consonants. I could never pronounce it. I believe his first name was, too, but he just made it Wesley.

I liked it when his brother-in-law, a retired auto mechanic, visited Wes to work on his car. He'd fix the car and then they'd get drunk. The brother-in-law was German and would stand doing the Hitler salute while shouting some sort of rant in German. He was hilarious. And driving back to Chicago like that.

lizardmom said...

I've never been to the Sausage Kitchen, I think I'll have to remember to get over there some time.
I don't live up to my heritage as a good German, I don't like most German foods. Now Mexican foods on the other hand... can't get enough!