When we planned our drive to Maine, we added an extra day. It gave us time to go to the Corning Museum of Glass (more on that later) which I have wanted to go do since I was a little girl. Perusing some New York diners online which might line up for a stop, I realized that the Chuckwagon Diner, actually Chris’ Chuckwagon Diner, which was in Champaign as the Chuckwagon until the mid 70’s and then later in Urbana as the Elite Diner (without its iconic sign) was not that far a drive away. I decided to keep it a secret as a surprise for Ernie. Of course the day before he started musing about where that diner was so I broke down and told him we were going to see it the next day. I should have lied, but I’m a lousy liar.

We left Corning, or actually a town east of there (the site of a two hour debacle with DoorDash the night before) and drove a couple of hours, getting there in time for a late breakfast.

The diner looks incredible. I can’t imagine it looking any better. We mentioned to our waitress that we were there because we lived in Champaign and wanted to see it again. The owner, Chris, ended up being so kind and chatting with us as she worked like a madwoman serving food. She showed up the books she had of old photos and clippings. She’s owned it about seven years I believe, she has classic car nights with music…and the diner is spotless and even decorated for fall outside with mums and corn. She is definitely the right person to own it.

Ernie couldn’t stop smiling and thanked me for planning this. We were both just utterly delighted with the whole experience. Oh, and perhaps most importantly, the food was GREAT!

A few of the original dishes!

Here are a few links to older stories about it:

Restored sign to serve as beacon of transplanted diner

Whatever happened to: Chuck Wagon Diner

Chris’ Chuckwagon Facebook page

Memories from Illinois follow Chuck Wagon to a new home

Iconic Chuck Wagon diner relocated, rejuvenated in New York

Whatever happened to…the Elite Diner? (I will quibble with the comment that the locals pronounced Elite a EE-lite.

One thought on “Champaign’s Chuckwagon and Elite Diner in good hands

  1. Definitely *not* “EE-lite”, which does not work in “Where the Elite meet to eat”. But I’m from Champaign, so who am I to say how Urbana residents pronounced it?