I have once eaten at Highland House, though it was a rather vague experience. However, it was on my Top Ten in my Tour de Highland Park especially popular with my foreign guests. Every Sunday morning, hundreds of motorcyclists would arrive to eat-meet-and-greet. Alas, with its sudden closing two weeks ago, to allow a car dealership to expand, motorcyclists are seeking a new regional mecca.
On the day of its final run, other restaurants peppered the crowd with fliers suggesting their place for the weekly reunion. The top two competitors seem to be The Full Moon just south of Buckley (41 and 137) and The Fatman (Where 41 and Milwaukee Ave intersect). Though The Point across from Fatman has possibilities because of their food.
Actually, you could call this the battle of the Greek Family restaurants. Full Moon is a 24-hour family style restaurant featuring broasted chicken amongst the gazillion choices.
The Fatman by reputation of the deceased prior owner was a genuine motorcyle hang out, which from the exterior seemed more taverny than eats. The parking lot was unpaved gravel and everything had a seedy appearance. When the original Fat Man died, he had a funeral procession with a multitude of motorcyclists. It made the Chicago Tribune, though I believe he died from a heart attack rather than "in the saddle."
Fatman was purchased by the owner of the Inlaws Restaurant on Milwaukee Avenue, another Greek Family restaurant, just south of Fatman. They have made cosmetic improvements like a new exterior paint job, then paved and landscaped the driveway. Where Full Moon enourages truckers, Fatman has a sign out "NO TRUCK PARKING." Where the old Fatman scared me by looks and reputation, the reincarnation looks rather friendly. I haven't eaten there yet, though I strongly suspect it is yet another Greek Family restaurant. They have recently advertized an early bird breakfast special to compete with The Point across the street.
The Point is a breakfast-lunch only place in the Greek Family tradition. They make a rather good breakfast including apple pancakes, similar to Walkers, which take 30 minutes. I was there last week for steak, eggs and hashbrowns. I actually considered going to Fatmans, but I just can't shake off the old rep so I am waiting to go with someone.
When you visit the corner of Milwaukee and 41, you get a feel for 41 before interstate 94 was built in the 1960's. You have The Point with its original 1950's-1960's signage. There is a small motel with a cowboy theme next door to the Fatman which has a southwestern adobe look. Route 66 may be the most famous of the by-passed highways, but there are legions of ghostly business districts created by the interstates.
The first week after the closing of Highland House, there were maybe 20-30 motorcyclists hanging out in front looking bewildered. This last weekend, nobody was at the Highland House, but there were maybe 50 cycles at Full Moon. My friend claims Full MOon has been blessed vis-a-vis a newspaper report, which was probably an optimistic publicist's plant. I somehow think they have moved up to Fatman, which I will try to get up to on Sunday.
Now with Michael Jordan's fading star and the Highland House closing, my Tour de Highland Park is shrinking.
ROUTES 41 & 21
1300 N Skokie Hwy North,
North Chicago, IL 60064
Inlaws Restaurant and Lounge
720 Milwaukee Ave
Gurnee, IL 60031
The Point Restaurant,
1952 N Skokie Hwy
US 41 at IL 21)
Gurnee, IL 60031
Tel: (847) 662-4130