Table Service

Appears in the July 2023 issue.

By Peter Gianopulos

Rosie’s Home Cookin’ proudly dishes up comfort food

Inside Rosie’s Home Cookin’

Some Marines, when they’re called into battle, will kiss a crucifix or rub a well-worn charm for extra strength. Others will clutch an old photo, blurred by sweat and tears, to remind them what—and who—they are fighting for. And sometimes, as in the case of retired Major Lynn Lowder, clinging tight to a simple, sweet memory of home can work wonders, too.

After all the battles he’s fought—some on foreign battlefields, others on the homefront, helping veterans find the confidence and connections to become entrepreneurs via the Veterans Business Project—Lowder, who served in Vietnam, still waxes nostalgic about a diner he used to frequent in Lovington, Illinois.

Biscuits and gravy at Rosie’s Home Cookin’

Oh, those farm-fresh eggs. The smell of fresh-brewed coffee. The laughter. The gossip. The feeling of community. “When you walked into that place,” Lowder says, “no one was a stranger.”

His affection for old-school diners remained so strong over the years that he decided to open one last year in Naperville (1567 N. Aurora Rd.) He named it Rosie’s Home Cookin’. Like any good soldier (or Marine), he understands the importance of good grub. Old-fashioned biscuits and gravy. Southern potatoes made with a pound of butter per serving. Open-faced meatloaf sandwiches. Skillets. Burgers. And mugs full of hot joe—with the option to spike each with a pat of butter (not the usual in most mess halls).

Missing Man table at Rosie’s Home Cookin’

But Rosie’s was meant to celebrate more than good food. It’s a living museum of symbols, artifacts, and expressions of faith that carried Lowder through many difficult days. The color scheme—scarlet red, light army-green, and white—are a salute to his beloved corps. There’s a dedicated Missing Man table (above), its chair always vacant, that memorializes every soldier who went to war but didn’t come home. The walls are adorned with Norman Rockwell prints, chosen by his wife, a tribute to down-home values and Rosie the Riveter, the diner’s iconic namesake. And there’s the military discounts, which make the inexpensive fare even more affordable for those who’ve served.

“The way you dishonor a warrior who comes home,” says Lowder, a Purple Heart recipient, “is you deny them the dignity of their experiences.” What Lowder has done at Rosie’s, via food and conversation and good service, is the opposite. It’s Lowder’s way of remaining “always faithful”—Semper fidelis—to a way of serving others that’s as immortal as the corps itself.


Photos: Lynn Lowder