Quirky Monon a familiar landmark in Putnam County

Monday, March 2, 2009
Denise Wahl Kirksey and Sherri Hammond are familiar faces at the Monon Restaurant. Both have worked at the familiar landmark off and on since the mid 1990's.

The Monon Restaurant has been a familiar sight for over 50 years near the railroad tracks that carried freight and passengers from Chicago to Louisville.

Originally called the Monon Grill, the quirky 75-seat restaurant still retains the railroad theme that was the reason for its existence when the Monon railroad stopped at the once adjacent Greencastle station.

Owned by Bev and Jerry Monnett, the building is essentially the same as when it was built of white enameled steel and fed carloads of train passengers.

It's a sweet spot, filled with antique kitchen and farm equipment hanging from the ceiling. A full-size cutout of James Dean next to an authentic jukebox greets customers as they enter the room. The homey walls are decorated with photos of stars from Shirley Temple to Clark Gable.

There is train memorabilia everywhere, including a life-sized conductor dummy in a rocking chair near the cash register.

The clientele is as eclectic as the building. On weekend mornings, a line forms as DePauw University students and their families mix with locals as both wait to order biscuits and gravy or fluffy three-egg omelets with sides of pancakes and bacon.

Nearly any time of the day, a group is gathered around the "Liars Table" enjoying a cup of coffee, a piece of homemade pie and catching up on the local gossip.

Breakfast is not the only meal folks come by to enjoy. The tenderloins are legendary and come in two sizes. They offer soups, salads and sandwiches as well as a complete dinner menu with country fried steak and manhattans. Sides include everything from mashed potatoes to three-bean salad.

There are appetizers like fried dill pickles, and the meringue on the pies is a mile high. Daily specials include all you can eat fish, crab legs, spaghetti, ham and beans and beef and noodles.

Even better than the home-style food and the quirky decor is the friendliness of the staff and owners who always greet you with a smile.

The Monon is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and is located at 814 N. Jackson Street in Greencastle. Call them at 653-8012.

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  • My Dad, Walter Frye, loved coming to your place in the mornings. It's something he looked forward to every day and all of you working there were always very nice to my Dad. When I think of my Dad and Greencastle, I remember him always talking about the good times he had at the Monon. My Dad passed away in 2004 and I miss him as much as I'm sure he misses your restaurant. Thank you for being so kind to my Dad.


    Ted Frye

    -- Posted by ted.frye on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 11:03 AM
  • while a police officer in the 50s and 60s the monon grill was the place the police had coffee at shift changes, it was open 24 hrs at that time, glen deem and cliff torr jr. were owners at that time, oh if the walls could talk, thanks, bill masten

    -- Posted by bmasten on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 3:20 PM
  • My father worked at the Monon Grill when he was a teenager. And he and Mom courted there early on in their relationship. I grew up enjoying the company and food. My grandmother lived around the corner from the greasy-spoon on Gillespie Street and my brother and I delighted ourselves in watching the trains fly through that side of town on the track my dad grew up playing around. The Monon Grill has stood the test of time and has proven itself time and again. I'm happy that places like this little spot still exist so another generation of folks can enjoy the Indiana hospitality that made this business what it is today.

    -- Posted by dandylyons on Mon, Mar 2, 2009, at 4:02 PM
  • As a Greencastle Police Officer for 30 years my Grandfather of course fequented the Monon for years and years. As his second job as a self employed truck driver, hauling drive-way stone to logal residents, the Monon was always scheduled in for our breakfast and or lunch stop. I'll always cherish our serious conversations over a cup of coffee there. Thank You as well Monon for always treating my Pa-paa, Russ Rogers so well over the years. I look forward to sharing your charms with my son.

    -- Posted by RRgson on Tue, Mar 3, 2009, at 11:16 AM
  • It was during the early 1940s that I regularly visited the Monon Grill. Roscoe Scott and his wife (I can't recall her name) were the owners and Chet Goodman was the night manager, the restaurant being open all night. Van Thompson Jr and I worked at the Chateau, Van was the projectionist and I the popcorn boy. Van would always drive me home and we would stop at the Monon for a sandwich. I would get two ham sandwiches and a glass of milk and Van would get two tenderloins and a glass of milk. My bill was 15 cents and his was a quarter. Hard to find a deal like that today.

    -- Posted by DudeBirt on Tue, Mar 3, 2009, at 2:53 PM
  • Once upon a time- in the 80's? the Monon was the place to go for AUCE shrimp and crab legs and a cold brew. MMMM-MMMM! Always the friendliest of service no matter what time of day or how many kids you had with you.

    -- Posted by '74tiger on Tue, Mar 3, 2009, at 8:26 PM
  • Roscoe Scott's wife's name was Alpha, their daughter Jinsie Bingham still lives in Greencastle. My dad worked for Roscoe in the Franklin St Garage, and one of my earliest memories is riding with my dad and Roscoe as they drove new Packards to Greencastle from Cincinnati. This would have been about 1950

    -- Posted by Karen C on Tue, Mar 3, 2009, at 10:27 PM
  • To RRgson - I remember your Gramdpa so well. As a Policeman when I was younger, and as the Teal Green Dump truck driver, when I was a little older. I used to pump his gas at the old 2 pump Zephyr station on Jackson St...russ always charged and paid his bill every Friday about 6:00 pm - a great guy. I've been eating at the Monon all my life. I, too had an uncle that worked there as a kid (for Mr Deem I think). One day in the fall of '63 my dad picked me up from Jones School and took me to a Whistle Stop campaign for Vance Hartke and Roger Branigan. Lunch at the Monon followed the event. Mae Slavens served. Great memories.

    -- Posted by countyboy on Thu, Mar 5, 2009, at 2:35 PM
  • The Monon needs to take a servsafe class with all the health code violations they had occurred over the years. I know the history runs deep but they still have a responsibilty to the public to follow the board of health.

    -- Posted by 1stamendrights on Fri, Mar 6, 2009, at 9:59 AM
  • Prom night...May 1969.....John Gough....Kathy Ruark.....Tut.....Sausage sandwiches with chocolate milk.....MMMMMMMGOOOD!

    -- Posted by TNVOLTUT on Wed, Mar 11, 2009, at 7:42 PM
  • Back in the 1950's, while students at DePauw, we frequently "dined" at The Monon in the wee hours of the mornings.

    We will be returning to Greencastle in June, 2010 for our 5oth reunion. Hopefully someone who reads this will remember the night cook, Burle (or Burl)

    last name, as we would like to make a reservation around 2:30a.m. on Friday, June 11 for our favorite special of "2-4" over easy, crisp bacon, hash browns, toast & coffee. Burl used to crack up to 4 eggs, all in one hand, and fry to perfection....much to our delight (as you can imagine) after a night of drinking at Moore's Tavern, hosted by our long time friend, LeRoy Moore.

    Thank you for helping us remembering "Burle"

    -- Posted by ptbobb on Mon, Jul 6, 2009, at 1:56 PM
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