Edith Lucielle’s Bait Shack and Wing Depot is in the absolute middle of nowhere. Well, at least my city friends who consider Marion, where I live, to be the middle of nowhere would say this roadside restaurant is off the beaten path. Whether or not this is true — Edith Lucielle’s is a close neighbor to the Lighthouse Inn Supper Club and a Casey’s — it feels like you’ve stumbled upon a hidden gem when you catch sight of the colorful, kitschy, 1950s-style billboard that serves as its sign.
The inside is decorated like it’s the Fourth of July, but I get the feeling that those decorations have been up for more than a month. It’s a cartoon version of an American diner, in the coziest, best way possible. And though its name, sign and decor would have you believe it’s been a rural Cedar Rapids mainstay for decades, Edith Lucielle’s opened just over two years ago, named in honor of the owners’ grandmothers and designed to capture the down-home experience of a stay at Grandma’s.
Adding to the homespun feel are the Jenga and board games in the waiting area. I particularly appreciated the solitary pack of Uno cards on our table, laying close by just in case the urge struck.
With the casual diner aesthetics, you might assume every menu item would be served to you directly from the fryer (where it arrived straight from the freezer), but Edith Lucielle’s serves a wide variety of homemade dishes, including homemade tenderloins — something I had never heard of, even as a lifelong Iowan — and homemade tiramisu. They also offer homemade biscuits and gravy, and tons of other breakfast items, including my favorite, the nondescript “Flapjacks & Meat.”
The diner has an interesting mix of rustic touches and laissez-faire vibes. When we ordered deviled eggs (a must) but asked for half without bacon, the staff said they weren’t sure if we would get a plate with half the amount of bacon on each or half with no bacon. Happily, it arrived as requested.
The list of rules included in the menu serves as a reminder to not take yourself too seriously. “No dancing on the bar” is rule number two, and one gets the feeling that it may have been an actual problem. “No fightin’ or cussin’” is rule three. “No horses inside” is rule number four, which also might have had precedent, given the location.
It’s particularly hard to be serious if you decide to take a dive into the Fishbowl, made with who-knows-what alcohol, a pink mixer and, if you can get to the bottom, gummy worms. “Sometimes we don’t like to serve it,” the staff candidly admitted, noting that rules number two and three (and perhaps even number four) become difficult to enforce post-Fishbowl.
The menu and staff implore you to be nice and have fun, which is easy to do at a place where you can enjoy handcrafted fried tomatoes, greasy-delicious cheeseburgers and deviled eggs that taste exactly like how your grandma makes ‘em.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 269.