Route 66 Diner closes in downtown Joliet

Clinton Street location has been a restaurant for decades, formerly Peter Piper

The Joliet Route 66 Diner on West Clinton Street in downtown Joliet on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

The Joliet Route 66 Diner, one of the longest running restaurants in downtown Joliet, although not always under the same name, has closed.

The owner and his wife went to the Joliet City Council meeting Tuesday to speak out publicly about problems they have had with the landlord of the building.

“We just want everybody to know what kind of people we’re dealing with,” Claudia Salez told the council.

Salez, who helped manage the restaurant with her husband, Tony Salez, spoke on his behalf because he is not conversant in English. They both appeared before the council and asked for help in a dispute with their landlord.

Claudia Salez said they decided to close after a meeting with building management in which they were told to vacate by April 30 because they have not been making full payments on rent.

“Sunday was our last day,” she said.

The Joliet Route 66 Diner is located at 22 W. Clinton Street across from the Joliet Public Library.

Previous owner John Georgouses, who had the restaurant for 20 years, changed its name from The Joliet Diner to appeal to Route 66 tourists who already were making the restaurant with its coffee counter and throwback diner features a stop while traveling through Joliet.

The location has housed a restaurant since at least the early 1960s when it was the Peter Piper Restaurant.

While the diner’s future is unclear, Claudia Salez said she believes building management wanted them out because they have found another occupant for the space.

The restaurant is part of the Hotel Plaza building, which includes the hotel with rented rooms next door.

Eric Rubenstein, operator of the Hotel Plaza, said owners are “entertaining different possibilities” for the Route 66 Diner space but would like to put another restaurant there.

“We were disappointed in how things turned out,” Rubenstein said. “We disagree with many of the statements that the folks from the restaurant made in public.”

Claudia Salez, however, said property managers stopped her husband as he tried to move equipment out of the restaurant since Sunday. She said her husband bought chairs, an ice maker, a dish washing machine and other equipment that he wants to take with him.

The Joliet Route 66 Diner on West Clinton Street in downtown Joliet on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

Claudia Salez appealed to the City Council for help in getting access to equipment and furnishings that belong to her husband.

It’s not clear what the city can do. But interim City Attorney Chris Regis did meet with the Salez couple after the council meeting. Claudia Salez said they also have hired an attorney and planned to meet with him Wednesday.

Among their complaints is that the restaurant continually had to deal with water leaks that Claudia Salez said came from pipes supplying apartments in space above the restaurant.

She said the restaurant had to close repeatedly over the eight years that her husband owned it because of leaking water, and they were told by building management that it was their responsibility to fix the leaks.

“They said the pipes are our problem,” Claudia Salez told the council.