The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

June 16, 2013

Colonial known for pizza, bread pudding

BY CAROL ROEHM
Commercial-News

DANVILLE —

Long before Walgreens was built at East Main Street and Bowman Avenue, a popular eatery occupied the corner for more than six decades.

During its 62 years, a number of owners served up delicious meals at the Colonial Parkway, including Bob Jones who ran the restaurant from 1970 until its closure in 1995.

“Colonial Parkway has quite a neat history,” he said. “It started in 1933, and it was one of the first places (in Danville) to sell pizza.

“We went there when I was in high school when Henry Schroeder had it,” Jones said. “When he had it, they had curb service. When Bob Cunningham had it, he did away with curb service and just had inside dining.

“It was a meeting place before I bought it,” he added. “All the kids congregated there after the ballgames.”

Jones said he did not purchase Colonial Parkway from the widow of Bob Metzen, who had been the restaurant’s owner in 1961 when he passed away at age 34.

The former mayor said he was only 23 years old in 1961, and even though the business was for sale, the property the restaurant sat on was owned by Danville Gas and Oil, and Jones said he couldn’t get a lease for the property for longer than 30 days, which was standard for oil companies at the time.

“A gas station and Colonial Parkway were all part of the same lot,” he explained.

Cunningham, who bought the lot from the oil company, ended up running the restaurant for several years until Jones bought it from him in October 1970.

In the end, the delay in acquiring the restaurant benefited Jones, who continued to hone his culinary skills at Jocko’s for several more years.

“I worked with Jocko (Diveley) for 14 years so I had all the experience,” he said. “A lot of my knowledge came from being at Jocko’s all those years.”

Jones also credited being a cook in the U.S. Army and attending cook and bakers’ school for sparking his interest in the food industry.

With Jones in Colonial Parkway’s kitchen, “we went to plate lunches and we had daily specials,” he said.

Country fried steak, roast beef manhattan, roast pork, chicken and noodles, meatloaf, baked pork chops and baked tenderloin were some of the specialties on the menu.

“I did a lot of the food preparation, and I had several cooks in the kitchen,” he said of the restaurant operation. “I was fortunate I had good help and they stayed with me.”

Probably the most popular item on Jones’ menu was his famous bread pudding, which he still prepares and serves at the annual Lions Club chili supper in March.

“Most of them were my recipes and my Aunt Irene Golden’s,” he said.

“The bread pudding was a combination of her recipe and mine . . . well, more her recipe than mine,” he admitted.

“I would make three to four pans of bread pudding every day.”

Another hot seller was the Joy Boy, which was a Jocko’s creation but that Jones had permission to serve.

“The Joy Boy was a double-deck hamburger, with special sauce, lettuce and onion,” Jones described.

Baked chicken was served on Sundays after church.

“Sunday was our biggest day when Trinity Lutheran let out,” he said. “The church was really good to me and was a good neighbor to me.

“It was a nice family restaurant,” he said. “We added on to it three times from the original building.”

Jones said the Colonial Parkway was the source of many fond memories.

“We had a lot of folks come in and you looked forward to seeing them,” he said. “I saw families grow up.”

Carol Roehm is the education reporter. Contact her at 477-5174 or by e-mail at croehm@dancomnews.com.