Pig Hip No More

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The Pig Hip Restaurant Museum along Route 66 in Broadwell, Illinois, immortalized in a 2003 Reader story, has burned down. The Pig Hip, a famous roadside spot (1937-1991) turned museum (2003-2007), caught fire on Monday afternoon, an hour after owner Ernie Edwards had finished hanging photos of all the Illinois governors who had visited over the years. Most of the building's contents were lost in the blaze. Edwards had been planning on celebrating his 90th birthday in conjunction with the Pig Hip's 70th this summer by putting up a tent and cooking pig hip sandwiches with his famous secret sauce, something he hadn't done for years. (It looks like the anniversary celebration might still happen; not sure about the sammiches).

Edwards was one of the first inductees into the Route 66 museum and his years at the Pig Hip are full of lore: a local bootleg supplier for Al Capone who ran the slots at the Hip back in its nightclub days; Colonel Sanders trying to sell Edwards a franchise; the founder of Steak 'n Shake complaining that Edwards stole his color scheme; apparently McLean Stevenson even worked the restaurant into a couple episdoes of M*A*S*H. Edwards's words on the fire? "I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with [the museum], but I knew I had to do something. So this made up my mind."

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