The Maid-Rite – Macomb and elsewhere

Photo by Robert Lawson
Serving “loose meat.” (Roseanne got the idea for this when she was married to Tom Arnold, who’s from Iowa), or “steamburger”, but the original Maid Rite, founded in Muscatine, Ioway. Basically, ground beef cooked in a secret solution. The only ingredient I knew was Pepsi-Cola.

The Maid Rite in my hometown of Aledo, IL served ’em up dry, or you could get them wet, which is where they’d get a big spoonful of the “secret solution” grease at the bottom of the cooker, and pour it over the sandwich.

Maid Rites were a dive restaurant up until about 15 years ago when they “gentrified” them into ersatz 50’s diners and doubled the price. The one in Aledo burned down before this could happen, thank God.

Good Eatin’.

OMG, you’re right! I grew up in Macomb, Ill and we had a hole in the wall place that made them for ever. Name of restaurant? Made-rite. Menu? Maid-rite. I haven’t had one in years and here I am drooling, thinking about one. Damn. I have no idea what’s in ’em either. My mom took me there the day I opened my first bank account, when I was 8, and I remember it because of the sandwich. If you eat a sandwich and 38 years later you salivate thinking about it, that’s a good sandwich.

34 responses to “The Maid-Rite – Macomb and elsewhere

  1. When I was going to graduate school at WIU in 1987-1989 I lived near the town square not far from Maid-Rite and went there a few times. That was some fine eating there. A few years later, I was at the Peru Mall in Peru, Illinois (I grew up in LaSalle) and there was a Maid-Rite there. Now I am in South Korea (I have been here since 1990) and after reading your blog entry, I am really craving for a Maid-Rite!

    Great blog!

  2. midnight snack

    My son is from South Korea and we are looking forward to a visit there. Wondering if there are sandwiches in Korea – Korean sandwiches, that is!

    Glad you like the blog. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. Yesterday my husband & I ate at Maid-Rite in Springfield, IL. It was the first time for both of us and we liked it. We both thought they tasted like White Castle burgers. The sandwiches could have used more meat. Next time I’ll order double meat! :> )

  4. Ron Eddington

    My Mother, who is now 86 years old, worked at the Maid-Rite in Macomb when she was in her twenties. I remember her making them for our family as I was growing up. I visited the Maid-Rite in Loves Park, IL last September, but, was very disappointed with the quality of sandwich.

  5. So sorry to hear that the sandwiches are not what they were. Do you know how to make them?

  6. Troy Thomason

    I grew up in Aledo, Ill. – lived there from 1950 to 1962. I remember the Maid-Rite. It was a great sandwich with mustard, pickle and onion only. What ever happened to the Alley Inn? Thought I saw it listed as Big Ed’s Alley Inn, but I can’t find it in this blog.

  7. I am going to look into the Alley Inn and see what I can find. Thanks for the tip.

  8. I was just in Macomb last weekend and took a picture of the now condemed Maid-Rite. It was very sad, indeed. I knew the folks that ran it when I grew up there back in the 60’s and 70’s. We used to joke that we didn’t want to know what was in them because of the condition of the place, but the sandwich was a taste of heaven and the soggier the better. It was almost ritual for family members that came to town to have lunch at least one time while they visited.

  9. You betcha. I grew up in Texas, but Dad was a Macomb native. I still love to eat a half dozen or so of these great sandwiches when I get a chance to go visit.

  10. Here’s a photo I took of the Macomb store after it closed. The image is now used on Wikipedia to illustrate the period of hard times they experienced prior to its brand revival.

  11. Here’s a photo I took of the Macomb store after it closed. The image is now used on Wikipedia to illustrate the period of hard times they experienced prior to its brand revival.

  12. What a great looking store. Thank you for this!

  13. They just opened one near me so must be going strong. But the best thing about Macomb is Chew Toy. Every town should have a band that soggy with awesomeness.

  14. I worked here when I was in college in Macomb from 2002-2005. It was so much fun and the ladies that worked there were a hoot. Open from 10-4, it was the only place where I could work all day for no tips (stingy Macomb elderly) and yet do some grad school homework in between customers. I’m sad to hear it closed last year, although without a phone or a bathroom, I’m not shocked.

  15. We stopped in for lunch a few years ago on our way back to Fl. It hadn’t changed since I was a kid. I think the seats were even the same. The food was great and the generel atmosphere was so bad it was good. A real landmark.

  16. My mom and her girlfriend worked at a Maid-Rite in Decorah, Iowa in the 40’s. They were 25 cents then. My mom died in ’87-her girfriend is 90 and lives in Freeport, Iowa. I’ve been in St. Louis 26 years-used to pick up a dozen or so in Davenport, Iowa on the SW side near a big cemetery by the Mighty Mississipp on my way back to St. Louis. Yes, mustard only-onions were already in. Cost then-$2.75 each. You need a spoon to eat them. A lady in St. Louis told me the secret ingredient was chicken stock- I was told pepsi. The best sandich ever!

  17. midnight snack

    Thanks for the wonderful story, Gregory. And thanks for reading!

  18. Well if you’re ever in Quincy, IL you can still get a maid-rite. It was even featured on food network a couple of years ago. Still good eatin’.

  19. It looks like Macomb il to me. Do you know what your talkin about

  20. That looks like Macomb Illinois to me…you know what your talkin about

  21. I grew up in Aledo, Il moved away in 1950 I first had a Maid Rite in Fairfield, IA can”t get them in TX. So big and juicy it makes my mouth water just thinking about them. Hear they are putting one in Arlington, TX but can’t reach anyone by phone so must not be open yet.

  22. For that I would drive to Arlington, Texas from here in Arlington, Virginia!

  23. I went to college in macomb and always passed the maid-rite… I have now moved to arlington, tx and I am so excited to see how the shop is here! It is finally open

  24. My family and I lived in Fairfield Iowa, dad was at Parsons College.There was a place West of town, a railroad car diner that made a super great maid-rite.Mom and dad and the family moved to Macomb, IL. dad was at WIU money was tight but, we get a maid rite for a delight. I have a can of manwhich, some ground beef, and now my feeble attempt to make a maid rite in the crock pot.

  25. Daniel Hanna

    I grew up in Springfield, IL eating Maid-Rites and I also had the similar New Way sandwiches in Wichita, Ks. New Way’s seemed a little “dryer” in my youth, but I have to say the guy running Maid-Rite in Springfield is really buying some good meat now. I don’t have to ask for dry, squeezed, or lean, like I used to. It is really good. I will stop by Maid-Rite every time I am in town.

  26. Oooh la la yum maid rite im salivating online sesrching for one near STl or I 70 eastbound ill....or I 57 headen to nashville tn anybody kno where I can get my fix 7203919273 MICKAELALYNNORIGINALS@GMAIL.COa


    • As a student in Carbondale, Illinois at SIU, one of my favorate things to do was just to drive around the old local towns in the area. One time, came across a little place some 30 minuets north east of the campus called Christopher, Illinois and it so happens, they have an old dinner which was open in 1928 that sells what they say are authentic Made Right Hamburgers! Guess the first owner purchased their recipe for $300 dollars and has been making them all these years. Its not listed as a location but it sells that ground up style burger.

  27. It’s set for demolition as of 2017. The building is too far gone to be saved…….

  28. I was born and raised in Macomb,Il I amnow 85 yrsold andI still make them at home.Vita

  29. Born and raised in Macomb as well and began eating here in the early 60’s as the entire family were Maid-rite regulars. Old man Cadle owned the place, I believe, for years. Last time I had a meal there was in the late 90’s. I don’t know why the place never sold when it was for sale. Prior to demolition, I would’ve loved being able to grab one of those famous wooden bar seats on a pipe metal stem (11 seats in the entire place, maybe?) for memorabilia sake. It would’ve made a nice addition to my garage tool shop area. Great memories, GREAT food, GREAT malts. Now I have to stop in at Quincy or Galesburg when I’m “home” and need a Maid-rite fix. Ever since Maid-rite went corporate, in my opinion the taste of the sammich and the quality of the sammich have taken a dive w/ the exception of the two locally owned establishments mentioned.

  30. My folks met at the Macomb Maid Rite. Dad came from the Pittsburgh area and was stationed at Camp Ellis, and Mom was a local. She worked there. The military building/room was across the street from the restaurant. I was born and raised in Macomb, IL and still proud of it! For years, I remember going in for “my” Maid Rite fix. Had to pick your seat if it was raining–the roof had lots of leaks. Fond memories. I still make my own version of the meat to this day, in Peoria, AZ.

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