Thursday, April 24, 2008

Matty's Pancake House, Willowbrook

Matty's Restaurant & Pancake House
10S642 Route 83
Willowbrook, IL 60527

April 15, 2008


Matty's is one of those places that has been in business forever, and will probably stay in business until the end of time, even though it doesn't get a lot of customers. Walking in, you can just tell that the few old people there are the same old people who have been having breakfast there every day since 1972.

It's also very easy to miss. Maybe it was the needlessly confusing directions we got off of Google Maps (I don't think their definition of a "slight left" is the same as mine), but we drove past this restaurant twice. It's a fairly big building, and right by the roadside, so I can't really explain why we failed to see it when we were actively looking for it. Maybe the restaurant owners don't want to be overwhelmed with customers, so they have some sort of high-tech, psychic cloaking device around their building, designed to deflect the attention of passers-by. Like the Shadow, Matty's Pancake House has the power to cloud the minds of men.

We walked in to see a small dining room with standard pancake-house decor. Do you know why faux-stained glass is so popular in pancake houses? Me neither, but I have to admit there is something oddly soothing about it. Maybe just because it reaffirms my preconceptions about pancake houses. If there's one thing in this world I can count on, it's the presence of that faux-stained glass with some kind of floral design.


Despite the tired aura of the place, service was remarkably quick. We ordered, I got up to use the restroom, and when I got back, our food was already there. I ordered a waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. Pretty good. About what you'd expect, which pretty much sums up the whole experience.


Joe here. This was my first time visiting Matty's, and definitely my last. I'm not sure I've ever paid to put myself through such an unpleasant half hour as this. What a horribly depressing place this was. The food wasn't bad but I'd gladly trade the entire experience for a box of stale Eggos and a hotplate.

Yahoo has Matty's listed as "Matty's Family Restaurant," which is kind of like listing the Yearning for Zion ranch as a Mormon church or Bad Newz Kennels as a pet shop. If I had kids, I'd sooner take them to Hooters in the middle a frat outing or to Buffalo Wild Wings while UFC 84 plays on the big screen. Matty's might look like a pancake house, but walking through its doors isn't unlike stumbling into the basement bar of your local VFW as a table of vets swap stories about how many gooks they killed back in 'Nam. I have a picture of the greasy slobs we were seated next to during our meal -- asking for a different table really wouldn't have removed us from their presence by more than an extra ten feet -- but I get the feeling that they were either mobsters or ex-cops, so I'm not going to post it here.

I swear every day, almost on the hour and often in public, so I can't judge anyone else if they do the same. But when you're in a restaurant having a conversation loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, you'd expect the owner to step in and do something about it, right? Nah, these were his bros. If they wanted to shout about "that cocksucker down at the VA" who stuck them too hard with the needle the last time they went to get their shots, or refer to "that son of a bitch" in every other sentence, that was just fine. Hell, he was sitting down with them, goading them on along with the serving staff. I almost lost my brunch when they started grabbing the waitresses by the wrists, pulling them close and groping them from behind. I can't pinpoint why I found this so revolting without revealing my deepest prejudices about class and my worst fears about aging. Regardless, it was a harrowing display that makes me cringe in light of so many of my favorite restaurants closing as of late. Why not this one instead?

I'm still trying to figure out why fifty cents was tacked onto our bill after it had been printed. Judging by the confused and semi-disgusted reaction I got from the owner when I went to pay at the register, it's not unimaginable to assume that it could be some kind of special fee they have for customers paying with debit cards. Maybe he considers them a nuisance? It took him a few minutes and multiple swipes to figure out how to process it. If anyone else has any other ideas about this -- other than it being a tax for elitist jackasses like me -- I'd like to know.

I know times are tough right now. Gas is more expensive than ever, good jobs are hard to find, and everyone is looking for ways to save their money. Unfortunately, for many families that's going to mean eating out less often than they're used to. I'd hate to recommend this, but in the case of Matty's I sincerely hope that their customers reconsider their continued patronage of this sketchy operation. Making pancakes with your loved ones at home is more fun, anyway. Make breakfast special today and pass by this dump at all costs.