We’ve been to Moonshine several times now, and every time is different. The first time we went, we were on our way to Kentucky. As I planned the trip, I was looking for some stops along the way. I had torn an article out of the paper that was about a tiny town in Illinois with an old general store that was becoming famous for the hamburgers they served. They named them moonburgers because the general store is called the Moonshine Store. At that time, their record for the number of sandwiches served in a single day was 712. Their new record, set in April of this year, is 1,908!
On that first trip, we left for Kentucky on a Thursday morning at 3:30 AM and planned to arrive at Moonshine around noon. We managed to get a little lost along the way and ended up on a road that passed through a creek – something like the scene below, but much worse since there was no concrete lining the bottom. Needless to say we turned around because we weren’t driving a 4x4 vehicle. After losing time back-tracking, we had to hurry to make it to Moonshine before they turned the grill off at 12:30!
If you decide to take a trip to Moonshine, you’ll know you’re getting close when you start seeing small signs tacked up on the telephone poles pointing the way to Moonshine. Because it’s in the middle of nowhere, it’s a good idea to have a backroads map and watch closely for those arrows.
On our first trip, we arrived at Moonshine at 12:22 and as we came in the door, we were told to get our order in because we had 8 minutes before the grill was shut down. We ordered two cheeseburgers and paid for our sodas and burgers while we waited. There are no order slips - you just tell the person at the register what you ordered.
As we waited for our food, which only took a couple of minutes, we noticed that the “staff” were all older people. Some were manning the register and the grill; others were sitting around chatting at the benches in the store. We thought one of them was even the spitting image of Junior Samples of Hee Haw fame, bib overalls and everything.
When your order is ready, they call your name and hand you your grilled sandwich on an old tin lid. Close to the grill is a small table where you help yourself with condiments and napkins.
If the weather is good, you can take your lunch and head out to one of the many picnic tables under the trees at the side of the store. If the weather isn’t good, you have to content yourself with a seat on one of the benches, and balance your plate on your lap. We’ve been lucky and have always had great weather for our visits.
As you sit under the trees enjoying your lunch, there are birds singing in the trees and sometimes hopping along the tables looking for crumbs. The food is excellent, though, so there aren’t many crumbs left over.
The first time we stopped, there was a truck parked in front of the store with a golden retriever taking a nap under the front bumper. This year on the way home from our North Carolina trip early in May, we stopped at Moonshine for lunch. As we were finishing our delicious meal, Joann glanced up and saw a dog wistfully watching the lunch patrons from the second story window and she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to snap a picture.
As we laughed about how we are often almost too late to order at the grill, we remembered what the owners had told us on our first visit. They had given us pens with the Moonshine Store name and phone number on them. They told us, if we were coming again and were running late, we could call and order our sandwiches. If we did that before 12:30, they would grill them so we wouldn’t miss out. And if we would be arriving after 1:00 (the time they promptly close the store), they would put the order in a bag in the mailbox. They said we could pick up our sandwiches whenever we got there and we could just leave our money in the mailbox. (We need to keep their number in the car!).
Whenever we stop at Moonshine, we usually spend a couple of hours there enjoying the peace and quiet and taking a needed break from the car. And before we leave, we make a stop at Sitty Hall (also known as the outhouse) and then we’re on our way.
Sitty Hall used to be the only facility, but since the store has become so popular, they have added several modern port-a-johns in the field across the road right next to Sitty Hall.
If you ever have the opportunity, take a side trip to Moonshine and experience a Moonburger for yourself. Or, if by some chance you’re a motorcycle rider, join in the annual Moonshine Lunch Run where records have been broken every year.