Sometimes I see a sign outside a restaurant that says "Charhouse." What is that? I'm wondering if it's a midwestern thing, because when I did a search for it online, a bunch of Illinois restaurants popped up.

There's a pitiful sign on my way to work that says "Charhouse", but it's in disrepair and is a putrid yellow and brown. The sign says they're remodeling, so that announcement along with the sickening style implies that Charhouse is a disgusting word.

Well, not really, but it doesn't conjure up images of refinement and beauty. I've never been to a Charhouse, but maybe I should check one out. I'm sure there's lots of flaming meat there and greasy potatoes.


Jon Konrath said...

It sounds like some Midwestern branding strategy to jump in on the whole neo-southern BBQ old-country-style craze. Cover your dining room with wood to look like a log cabin, and they will come.

Anonymous said...

Good description! And you should know since you're from the midwest. Thanks for providing some clarity to this weirdness!

James White said...

I'm going to disagree with it being an attempt to jump in on a craze. I am 31 and for as long as I can remember there have been multiple "charhouses" in the suburbs of Chicago. Google Jimmy's Charhouse, Jameson's Charhouse, etc. Unfortunately I cannot offer you an answer as to what Charhouse means as I arrived at this page by Googling that question.

I have only been to a Charhouse once, but would describe the one I went to as more trying to replicate a decor crossed between old southern plantation house and alpine ski lodge.

The menu was fairly bland, and consisted primarily of things like roast beef and hamburgers. It was my grandparents' favorite restaurant and we were there to celebrate one of their anniversaries if I remember correctly.

Unknown said...

Google Sugar Land Heritage Foundation which gives the history of the use of the Sugar Land Char House. Essentially a process of refining sugar with use of animal bones (yuck, right?!). It must have been blazing hot in the summer! That's why Sugar Land used local prisoners as labor. As an aside, the Blues genre was advanced from slaves in the sugar plantation in the area (prior to the char house technology), through the local prison system. The artist Lead Belly was such a prisoner/musician. He was friends with Lightnin' Hopkins and they traveled/performed together after his release. I digress. Look up Chitlin' Circuit to follow the progression of the genre. Fascinating!