I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
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memory chugs on in dining car
By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................November 29, 2011
After going through several owners and closings, the old
railroad car along Route 34 in Sandwich has finally been restored
to its original grandeur. It was built in 1893 and acquired to
be used on the campaign train for Teddy Roosevelts presidential
A little history: The Pullman Palace Car
was built for $25,000 and debuted at the 1894 Columbian Exposition
in Chicago. After that it became part of the crack flyer train
on the Burlington Railroad known as the Pride of Burlington.
The car was turned over to President Roosevelt to use as part
of his campaign train that crisscrossed America in the 1904 and
1908 presidential campaigns, as well as his failed Bull Moose
Party run for president in 1912. It found its way to Sandwich
in the early 1930s, where several restaurateurs have occupied
The new owners, Ronald and Susan Saballus,
spent hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating and restoring
the famous dining car over nine months and opened it this past
spring. Sabullus has years of experience in the real estate and
construction business, and utilized his workers to make sure
every detail was finished to his specifications. Susan has been
in the antique business for more than 20 years in DeKalb, Naperville,
Sandwich and Villa Park, so she has an appreciation for history
and the possibilities of transforming a rotting wooden structure
into a fine restaurant and event center.
Ronald and Susan Saballus stand beside one of the leaded glass
windows they carefully restored to remain a part of the 118-year-old
presidential campaign train dining car. (Barry Schrader photo)
Shows exterior of the renovated bar and restaurant
The first thing you will notice when driving up to it is that
they stripped the aluminum siding off, which made it look like
a Zephyr but was not the original exterior.
though they had no experience in the food business, they learned
a lot from a nephew who has a restaurant in Cicero and a stepdaughter
who operates a restaurant in Plano. We had become empty-nesters
and wanted to try something entirely new in our lives. This opportunity
presented itself, so we bought it from the bank, Susan
explained. They then involved their son in the business, who
now serves as bar manager. They also provide employment to 20
area people, some part time and some full time.
said the choice of a new name Bull Moose Bar & Grill
was a natural because Roosevelt last rode the train car
in his Bull Moose campaign. I think of this as a Cheers-type
bar where we know every regulars name and spend time mixing
with our customers, Ronald said.
started a new tradition in the business by holding pool tournaments
and even a triathlon, which includes pool, the tabletop soccer
game of foosball and bags, where you toss bean bags into holes
cut into a raised board. They now hold charity events in the
expanded facility, which includes the attached house converted
into a dining area. Wedding rehearsal dinners, as well as birthday
and anniversary parties, can also be held in either section by
closing off the railroad car for the special events.
added that the Chicago chapter of the Bull Moose Theodore Roosevelt
Society has visited the establishment and is assisting them in
further research on the history of the 118-year-old Pullman dining
I cant end without sharing my dining
experience there: The prime rib sandwich, for only $10, was cooked
by Chef Bruce just to my liking. Now I must hurry and take my
whole family to Sandwich for lunch before they read this column.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115