My family connection is that I have good memories of visiting both with family. My mom, sister and I discovered both Orsak's and Mikeska's, 11 years ago.
I had not been back to Mikeska's, until yesterday.
It was before noon when Don and I approached the roadside wonder. No need to drive into historic downtown Columbus. The octagonal restaurant was conveniently located, right off the feeder, beside I-10... along with a windmill and a pump jack and a number of hard to miss signs.
We parked near the building, but there was a mighty big lot we could have used.
There were also drive-thru options. Jerry's original location didn't cater to the driving customers quite so easily. After doing business in downtown Columbus since 1956, he moved out near I-10 in 1986.
The Grand Interior
Why would you want to pick up your BBQ from a window, when you could dine within 8 walls, beneath a skylight and a dangling, illuminated antler display?
And All Those Animals!
Then of course, there are the critters that greet you when you walk in the door. Don marched up to get in line, but I moved slowly by the mounted creatures.
I'm not even sure what this beast is, but I remember him! He seemed very serious, but his "parted" horns kind of reminded me of my favorite, silly idol from childhood books. I loved Pippi Longstocking and her braids that curled upward!
Lots of Birds
Photos of Jerry
There might have been as many photos of Jerry as there were stuffed animals, on those walls. I think there were more than 200 animals.
There were photos of Jerry with presidents and governors, red-hatted ladies and gals in sparkly costumes. There were also photos of Jerry and his brothers.
Here is Jerry (in his tie) along with 3 of his 5 brothers. All 6 ended up in the BBQ biz. In our 20 years in Texas, we've pretty much heard the names of all... Rudy, Mike, Clem, Maurice, Louis and Jerry. They all worked in different towns, with different specialties. Jerry... he doesn't like garlic. That's what I learned.
After Don and I got our food, I looked up and saw no line. I wandered over to ask a few questions, but the guys in red, were all pretty young and not really up for chit chat.
I was tempted to ask if Mr. Jerry was in his office. I had read somewhere that he is in his 90's, but still comes into work. Instead I asked if Jerry was the hunter of all the wild game that was on display. "No, he's just a collector." The young man did crack a smile when I asked what it was like to have all those eyes watching him work every day. He had no answer, but he laughed.
I noticed a few bears wearing some clothes. That reminded me, that something was missing. I remembered that when Jennifer and Mom and I came to dine, we were greeted by a pair of polar bears, one wearing a tie.
I went up and asked the young guy at the counter, what happened to the polar bears with the baskets. He said they were still around, they just weren't on display. Hmm? I missed those sweet bears, who held baskets of mints. I remember Mom was pretty amused and Jennifer held our Miss Copeless doll, in the photo. She happened to be the mascot, that traveled with us on our road trip.
Maybe I should have been more bothered by all these eyes looking out towards the dining tables. Some looked a bit fierce and others, just silly... like the squirrel with the raccoon tail, or the rabbit with antlers.
Chowing on Meat
Maybe I would have enjoyed my pork ribs more, if I hadn't been surrounded by furry animals. I'm one of those people who really likes the sides more than the meat anyway. Maybe I should have ordered just sides. But, when in Rome...
This photo is not very appetizing, but my spinach and buttery-soft potatoes were yummy. The pea salad was packed with creamy calories and soft-sweet peas. My ribs were actually better as leftovers, when they were reheated at home... away from the gaze of animals.
Don ordered the chopped beef sandwich, which was actually very good. No need for sauce.
We lingered a bit, absorbing the decor and wondering about the other diners, who all seemed to be regulars. I kept wishing Jerry would just walk out.
No Signs of Jerry
We never saw Jerry, but when I got home I dug out photos from 2008. What do you know! I spotted Jerry in his white shirt and black bowtie.
And I spotted Mom in another photo. There she sat, wearing her favorite knit hat, with llamas. In the image, she looks like she's studying an animal or two.
The chairs have changed, but the tables look the same. I had to smile when I realized that Mom was sitting at the very same table where Don and I sat.
Sweet memories of Mom enjoying our curious dining adventure. I'm glad to have shared another Mikeska's experience, with Don.
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.