Los Amigos - Gone, but not digested.

Way back in "yore", most any restaurant, motel, or foot and ankle clinic sold postcards featuring pictures of the restaurant, motel, or foot and ankle clinic near the cash register. Presumably this was to help you remember that time you visited the establishment, whether because that's where your flat tire left you stranded for a few hours or you dropped in to get some corns frozen off while you did a load of whites at the laundromat next door.

Today's random blow on the ocarina of time brings us to 1970-something (the postcard had no date on it), when the Los Amigos restaurant was the undisputed king of the intersection of West Ballard road and Milwaukee Ave in Niles, Illinois!

In the early seventies, the Ladder Crisis had left thousands of restaurants unable to change their zip letter marquees for months. This led to some restaurants being forced to serve pepper steak long after reliable sources of beef had run out. Others had no choice but to feature the exotic rhythms of Lloyd and Debbie every night for the duration of the shortage.
The proprietors of Los Amigos had solved their signage problem by overcoming the force of gravity, enabling the implementation of their hoversign technology. Somehow, they had found the time to complete the unified field theory while still serving top quality Spanish and Mexican food at reasonable prices. Their unique hoversign allowed the manager to bring their sign within reach, to easily change the marquee as needed, sending the sign back to appropriate promotional altitude when the zip letter change was complete. This technology put the restaurant on top of the Niles Spanish/Mexican food scene during this difficult time.

In keeping with the seventies' obsession with velvet paintings, the Los Amigos commissioned this oil-on-velvet work depicting Santo Gordito, the patron saint of affordable Latin cuisine, performing "Danza de los Dos Estómagos" or the Dance of Two Stomachs. This brought the faithful to the Los Amigos from as far as Berwyn to pay tribute and take advantage of the Wednesday combo platter special.

Unlike their competitors, the Los Amigos provided house instruments for their entertainers. Luis Lopez and His Latin Band were a frequent feature of the Friday dinner experience at Los Amigos. They shared the Golden Curtain stage with the Giant Wooden Pillar, since they had no choice. It did keep the drum kit from scooting off the end of the stage, though.

Behind the bar was displayed a rare artifact of Pope Giant the First: a 24" diameter sunburst ornament from the top of his Holy Whapping Stick, which, according to legend, he used to drive his predecessor, Pope Medium, from St. Peter's Basilica in 1946.

The proprietors of Los Amigos never revealed how the ornament came into their possession, but the staff held prayer meetings before the ornament daily, chanting "bigger portions mean bigger tips".

Sadly, the Los Amigos era came to an end in 1979, when high winds blew the hoversign out over Lake Michigan. Patrons never again knew where to find their favorite entrees, The Three Burrito Feat and the Quesedilla Mi Dios.

Google maps shows that a strip mall now occupies the approximate location. If you use Street View to see the strip mall, you can see "Burrito House". Coincidence? Probably! Interesting? Possibly!

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