Hot rod diner with a twist of country

By on September 2, 2011

Photo: The Moon Dance Diner on Main Street in Maple Park is an old-fashioned ‘50s style eatery with a comfortable atmosphere and lots of memorabilia on the walls to look at while you enjoy your meal. The staff that keeps the Moon Dance Diner running are Angie Cano (left to right), Maryann “Mert” Weinart, owners George and Liz Georgiou, Jordan Manier and Laura Weyker. The Georgious (below) of Elburn opened the Moon Dance Diner on July 21. Photos by John DiDonna

Moon Dance Diner opens in Maple Park
by Lynn Meredith
MAPLE PARK—Where can you find homemade apple pie, homemade corned beef on a signature reuben, homemade chicken, egg and tuna salad, the best Greek salad in Illinois, burgers the likes of the Juicy Lucy and the Tummy Buster, and even diner classics like spam and eggs and fried bologna sandwiches? The answer is the Moon Dance Diner in Maple Park, operated by George Georgiou and his wife Liz.

When you enter the cozy diner on Main Street in Maple Park, at the site of the former Sanders barbershop, you enter a world of car and hot rod memorabilia. Gas and oil tin signs hang on the walls, along with old photographs of Maple Park. The barbershop and other businesses that lined Main Street in eras past are pictured. Red vinyl swivel stools sit along the wooden counter, which, along with the tables, were handmade by George out of reclaimed wood. The logo is a horse and crescent moon, appropriate because the diner was named after Liz’s horse. With room for 35 diners, the cafe is the dream of George, who grew up in a restaurant family in the city.

“I’m Greek. It’s in my blood,” George said. “Opening a diner was something I always wanted to do.”

After 25 years as a commercial and editorial photographer, he found the industry was changing, and after moving to Elburn five years ago, the commute to downtown Chicago was becoming too much. He and his wife Liz began scouting locations. Ironically, the first one they looked at in 2007 was the current location, but it wasn’t meant to be at that time. Only after almost closing a deal on a place in DeKalb did George realize what he really wanted.

“It dawned on me that that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to deal with liquor and having college kids in and out,” he said. “My goal was to service the community with a family-oriented place where seniors could come and hang out and where the prices are affordable.”

On a menu with nothing costing more than $10, George does as much scratch-cooking as possible and buys his produce from Wiltse’s. A diner in Maple Park seemed like an ideal location because, George said, people have to drive to Elburn or Cortland just to get a bite to eat.

“I want to work with the people in the community. I want to support the community, so they can have a place they can call their own,” he said. “I like the location, I like Maple Park and I love the people. We absolutely love the people of Maple Park’s support,” he said.

As fall comes around, the Moon Dance will start serving soups and chilis and may try opening a couple of nights during the week. George also would like to make the diner a destination for people out for a drive in the country. And he has one more thing he would like to see.

“My goal is to get on ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,’” he said.

Moon dance Diner & Grill
309 Main St., Maple Park
Monday through Friday • 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday • 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on
Sunday • 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. breakfast only