110th Anniversary Look Back

110th Anniversary Look Back - Day 216

Today we share this newspaper clipping we found, likely from the late 90s, titled "Hog heaven: Bikers and burger fans can refuel deliciously at Kegel's Diner"

A little less than an hour and a half from Madison is Kegel's Diner - an eatery oozing Harley-Davidson ambience - and the burgers aren't bad either. Karl Kegel, who lays claim to being one of the descendants of the original Kegels who had the first Harley-Davidson dealership, has what Harley execs say is the last diner attached to a motorcycle dealership.

The diner seats 67 and features a red-and-black high-gloss interior with a snack counter in the middle.

"The padded stools are very comfortable," said a waitress to a family during a recent visit. The little girl, who told the waitress this was her day and she'd picked the diner for lunch, liked the spin on the stool. Her mother looked ambivalent to the whole experience and her shirt-and-tied dad admired the vintage Indian on a raised platform in the center of the oval snack counter.

Pictures of Kegel regulars on their motorcycles, with none of that cheesecake that forces parents to read biker magazines clandestinely, adorn the ceiling around the snack counter bike shrine.

The diner has a separate entrance and separate hours from the dealership. When the diner and the dealership are both open, bikers waiting for their Harley, BMW or Buell to be serviced wander in for a cup of coffee, which is good, hot, priced at 75 cents and which the waitresses hurry to refill constantly.

The menu - and souvenir menus are available and free - is a real treat. Kickstarts is the breakfast section. The diner offers pancakes, waffles, omelets and biscuits and gravy. The omelet selections include the Milwaukee, which is ham and American cheese, the Daytona, which is vegetarian, and the Sturgis, which is a western omelet.

The diner opens at 5 a.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. Sunday. Diner employees say Sunday is already turning out to be a bike review morning, with bikers pulling up to the side parking area, sitting in the diner drinking coffee and swapping motorcycle lies.

"Transmissions" is the lunch menu. I had the springer, a broiled chicken breast sandwich. It came on a great whole-grain bun, gently warmed but not soggy, with a lemon wedge. The chicken was moist and tasty. There's the fat boy, a half-pound hamburger and the sportster, a quarter pound. Sandwiches either come with ample portions of chips or fries. The fries are thick waffle cut beauties, not greasy and not hard in the middle.

My dining companion had a burger. It came with lettuce and tomato, and two kinds of pickles on the same great bun. It was juicy, not greasy and the meat was gently seasoned. My only quarrel with the burger was the waitress didn't ask how he wanted it done. It came well done, which was fine for him, but I like burgers a little less cooked.

"Primarys" is the dinner menu. There's hog heaven, which is a ham dinner, wide glide pie (chicken pot pie) and beemer beef (open-face sandwich). No wimpy rice pilaf alternatives here - every sandwich comes with real mashed potatoes.

"Thunder and Lightning" selections include the chili, which is homemade and the salad selections. The chicken soup was dandy, thick egg noodles, big pieces of chicken and a variety of vegetables like corn and green beans - not just the usual insipid carrots and celery. "Shortsters" is the kiddy menu, "Fuelers" the drink selection - no alcohol served - "Taillights" is the desert menu.

There are fish and vegetartian selections on both the lunch and dinner menu and "Accessories," fresh sweet rolls and extra eggs or yogurt on the breakfast menu.

"Kegel's has great atmosphere and more than decent food. And, if you are bored waiting for a table, check out the store. Billed as the Harley store 2,000, the neon lights, high ceilings and chrome fixtures are sure to keep you occupied.

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