Winamac restaurant takes customers into the past through memorabilia

Published: Nov. 7, 2019 at 4:48 PM EST
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It's the home of Americana -- Pulaski County style.

"It's funny when people [say], 'The Winamac Corner Delli, oh, where's that? Oh, the old Burger Dairy, right there on 35? Oh, yeah, that's it," Elaine Dell said.

She and husband, Bob Dell, opened their restaurant in 2012. Beside the great food, they've become known as a hub for something else.

Some may call it junk, but "to us it's not," Elaine explained.

Instead, it's a collection of keepsakes, some from their own lives, including one that's quite presidential.

"He was like one of the first pieces in here," Elaine said as she described the cardboard figure of former President John F. Kennedy. "We'd move him, every couple days, we'd move him so it'd kind of look like somebody was in here."

There are different knickknacks all around, each with different histories.

There's a large beverage cooler that is now filled with old family clothing.

There's also a few pieces featuring Camel cigarette mascot Joe Camel.

"The Camel is from growing up in the family business," Bob said. "We had a bunch of convenience stores, so the camel become an interest of mine. I never smoked or anything, but I did like the memorabilia."

Eventually, customers started donating their own stuff.

"North Express, Inc. of Winamac," Bob said, describing an old bomber-style jacket. "The company, Zahrt's. Mr. and Mrs. Zahrt brought this stuff in because they saw we had stuff on display, and this is a part of Winamac history."

"I think everybody likes that good feeling back when they were a kid," customer Dewaine Davis said. "And I think that's kind of what they're trying to put together here. That type of an atmosphere."

It's an atmosphere filled with trust that sparks conversation between generations.

"People come in, they see something that jogs a memory and they start talking about their past," Bob said.

"And then it goes into, 'I remember when ...'" Elaine continued. "And that's how I love to start conversations."

The couple said they don't advertise that they collect; it's mostly people who see the items and spread the word.

They also say they've never thought about any monetary value for the items. To them, their restaurant is just a home for Winamac history.

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