There's a whole lot to be said about sliding into your favorite booth at your favorite restaurant and ordering up some good, old-fashioned, home cooking.
Forget about an Egg McMuffin or a Big Mac; sink your teeth into a breakfast of homemade biscuits and gravy, a meat loaf plate lunch, a pork chop dinner for two, and your choice of a wide variety of homemade cakes and pies for dessert.
Hours: Kalin's Café, located at 9 E. Main St., in Du Quoin, opens at 5 a.m. Sundays through Saturdays. The restaurant closes at 8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, they stay open until 10 p.m.
If you go often enough, you will become part of the restaurant family.
Rob Bridges of Du Quoin bought what was No Name Café Restaurant, did some extensive renovations, and opened the doors to Kalin's Café in July 2005. He named it after his son, Kalin, and brought his newlywed wife, Amy of McLeansboro, and her son, Zeke, along for the ride.
"We opened the café in July and got married in August," Amy said.
They both tell the story of how Rob had to fix the door handle on one of the walk-in coolers on their wedding day.
But there are lots of stories in Kalin's -- so many they should be a daily special on the menu -- and they go back more than a century. Before Kalin's and No Name Cafe, there was Rosie's Bar and Grill, Mary Lou Emling's restaurant and Jenny's.
There's the story about a man who was thrown from the upstairs window of the building for stealing money in the '20s or '30s, when gambling was going on, and there's a list of old-Hollywood movie stars who frequented the establishment.
"At one time there were Golden Glove boxing matches going on upstairs," Rob said. "And there are rumors of a brothel."
"Just ask John Alongi at the liars' table," Amy said. "He's got plenty of stories."
The liars' table is where most of the stories are cooked up. You can't miss it. It's large and round and sits in the center of the checkerboard floor, at the back of the room, so the liars have the best view.
"The table is round because the stories never stop going around and around," Amy said.
The liars' roster doesn't change much from the core group, although the next generation is often represented (as apprentices). Regulars include John Alongi of Du Quoin; Ray Hawkins of Pinckneyville (voted the best lookin'); Jimmy Jarvis (voted the most likely to lie), Ross Wyatt Jr. (apprentice), and Linda and Ross Wyatt of Dowell; and owners Rob and Amy and Amy's son, Zeke (also an apprentice) of Du Quoin.
Kenny Stacey may or may not be a regular at the liars' table because he claims, occasionally, to be in the witness protection program, and cannot, therefore, be identified.
Rob claims to have started the business "because I needed a good place to have a great cup of coffee!" But he was sitting at the liars' table when he said that, so take it with a grain of salt.
There are a few things Rob said that could be verified: that one of the main reasons he loves owning Kalin's isn't the money he's made, it's the friends.
"We have come to develop some great relationships with many people," he said.
And as to why they've succeeded when so many hometown restaurants fail, Rob said it's simple.
"If you make good, homemade food and sell it at a reasonable price, and if you take care of your customers, they'll come back," he said.