Kankakee County, IL–A local man who’s been down on his luck lately reported hunk of flaming cheese the “highlight of his week,” stating: “It’s been a rough week, getting most of my hours cut and whatnot, but I’ve been planning to splurge for some time now, to dine like a king! And I don’t plan on backing out now, over something as minuscule and immaterial as financial uncertainty and a bleak career outlook. I deserve a little something special!” Roger R. Dodge noted that an area greasy spoon restaurant, Dino’s Diner, became the unexpected destination for his “high life aspirations” after overhearing the emphatic chants “Saganaki! Saganaki! Saganaki!” echoing in the alley behind his apartment building late one Friday night.
Dino’s, previously reported on as a hidden gem in Kankakee County, is best known for its unorthodox approach to introducing some Greek favorites to its to-be-expected bland selection of mundane entrés, which were undertaken in an effort to spice up the restaurant’s menu and invigorate its banal small-town diner culture. The diner experienced minor media attention when it was recently entered into the county’s culinary magazine, Taste of Kankakee–an opportunity offered to any restaurant located in the county that pays the magazine’s modest entry fee. While they lost in the magazine’s “Best 20 in Kankakee,” their entry fee afforded them the opportunity of being included in “100 Kankakee Restaurants,” which essentially reads like a yellow pages listing; and though the 99 other included restaurants appear alphabetically, suggesting the list is not ranked preferentially in any way, Dino’s nevertheless appears last.
Despite this recent, if unimpressive, publication, which they’ve framed and prominently hangs on the wall behind the cash register in the lobby for customers to admire, the Greek menu amendments have been predictably hit-or-miss with the restaurant’s patrons. Moreover, virtually by all accounts, the restaurant has failed to attract the sophisticated new clientele (and redefined culture thereof) it’s after, with the exception of the enthusiastic adoration of a pseudo-intellectual high school theatre troupe. Nonetheless, Dodge remains an undeterred, loyal patron, in fact one of the restaurant’s “high rollers.” “Look, I know Dino’s isn’t the Temple of Olympia. I’m not claiming it’s Athena, or Greek Islands, or The Parthenon. I can’t afford a swanky hunk of cheese on my part-time cashier’s budget. But when I’m feeling fancy, I’ll tell you what, Dino’s mozzarella does the trick!”
When asked to make a comment on her impression of regular customer Roger R. Dodge, seasoned and ostensibly apathetic waitress Maureen Fairchild said: “Who are you? Look, I don’t have time for this. I gotta do double shifts at Wal-Mart, KMart, and Target after this. I don’t know, he reminds me of my ne’er-do-well middle son, Charlie, who I recently kicked out, because he wouldn’t stop playing the X-box! I told him I gotta work in the morning! This weirdo Dodge would probably get along with him real good, would make great roommates, the two–staying up all night playing the X-box and whacking off, the creeps!”
Head line cook Gabe “Shake Shake” Shaker, on the other hand, sung Dodge’s praises. “Look, I love Dodgie! He’s way more respectful and quieter than those mountain brewskies (sic)-chugging filmheads! Now don’t get me wrong, he still requests mountains of hot cheese, and that kinda pisses me off! But hell, I’d have a beer with him.”
At press time, Dodge had excused himself to vomit in one of the bathroom toilets–a frequent occurrence caused by the restaurant’s hazardous method of lighting mozzarella cheese by first dousing it in lighter fluid and then holding a flame to it. When asked about the head chef’s precarious method for lighting the untraditional interpretation of saganaki–which poses both a fire hazard to the restaurant and its occupants, and a health risk to customers ingesting traces of toxic lighter fluid–Dodge remained unconcerned: “Hey, Shaker’s cooking isn’t for everyone. Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges, maybe. But that’s just him, and Dino’s for that matter–old school. It’s part of the charm! Ha. Ha.”