Of the many events catered by Holly’s Country Kitchen, frequent gigs on moving trains from the Monticello Railway Museum offer the stiffest challenges.
So far, so good.
“No one’s fallen or spilled coffee yet,” restaurant owner Holly Miller said, crediting her staff’s time on area lakes for their impressive footwork. “It’s like standing on a boat — you get used to it.”
On Saturday — Opening Day for the railway’s ‘23 season — Miller’s crew of five servers and five cooks treated a sold-out crowd of 88 aboard the Taste of Italy Dinner Train to lasagna, chicken parmesan, shrimp alfredo, salad and cheesecake — all at 9 mph. Passengers chowed down in a restored dining car during a 90-minute trip from downtown to near White Heath and back.
It’s part of an innovative series introduced last year by the museum that includes a Donut Train, a Roaring ‘20s Dinner Train and — in July — a Murder Mystery Dinner Train, during which the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company will perform.
“People are looking for experiences,” museum president George Roadcap said. “It helps when we can provide something different.”
Miller got involved after hobnobbing with museum employees at her popular Monticello restaurant. “This is the most fun catering job we have,” she said. “My entire staff gets to get out of the restaurant, take a train ride and the passengers are amazing. Working with the railway volunteers is awesome as well.”