Rich and Chris Decker took over the Igloo in 2010 from the Mazzorana family, who started it in 1937. The brothers vowed to keep it what it’s always been: the town’s favorite destination diner for burgers and chili, tenderloins and brats, hand-cut French fries, and from-scratch shakes and malts. Nearly everyone who eats here is a regular customer. One veteran waitress gives me a motherly smile when I sit at the counter, telling me I look just like good old Dr. Schott, who recently died and who was a big fan of Igloo chili.
After only a few minutes in this place, it is apparent that both Rich and Chris relish their roles as owner, host, ringmaster. When one waitress starts needling Chris about spending too much time kibbitzing with the clientele and not enough running the diner, he turns away from her and announces loud enough for all around to hear: “This is my back. And this is you off it!”
Order a tenderloin (here known simply as “a pork”) and its standard complements are onion, pickle, and – are you ready? – ketchup. At first I was skeptical, considering mustard to be the de rigueur condiment, but I very much enjoyed the interplay of sweet and tangy. The loin itself is wavy, crisp, and quite thin, with enough meat to be juicy once you crunch through the crust.
Root beer is served in a frosty mug, but if you like milk shakes, that’s the drink to get. “I guarantee that this is the best chocolate malt I have made all day,” says Chris Decker when I order one at 11:30am. I reassure him that it is the best one I’ve drunk all day. In fact, it was the best I drank during a weeklong trip through the Illinois River Valley.