Friday, February 1, 2013

Granular Madisonville (A Member of the "Oh, Kentucky" Family of Posts)

I’m very concerned about "Vagabond Mike's Pizza Place" (not its real name[1]).

I just drove by the Madisonville restaurant at noon on a Friday, and the neon OPEN sign was dark and the parking lot, empty. So I continued on back National Mine Road—past the United States Department of Agriculture Service Center, Daymar College and Schwan’s. And I spun around at the end of the street in the parking lot of United Central Industrial Supply. Back past Schwan’s, Daymar and the USDA. Now there was one of the "Vagabond Mike's" delivery vans parked in front of the restaurant. A man hopped out of the driver’s side and then came around to let a boy out of the passenger seat. Then they both went in. But the OPEN sign remained dark.

Might "Vagabond Mike's" have closed?

Certainly, I have not done my civic duty to keep this locally owned restaurant afloat during the reeeeeeeecesssssssssssion. When it comes to local pizza, I’m a Roxanne’s man. And the last pizza I bought was a $5 HOT-N-READY® job from the new Little Caesars that opened in town a few months ago.

But I always guessed that "Vagabond Mike's" had legion local followers. I know it’s the favorite of the music director at my church. And I know he and his wife sometimes meet the guy who runs the local office-supply business and that guy’s wife there for lunch. Surely there’s plenty of local love for "Vagabond Mike's."


I’m parked in the lot of American Mini Storage, typing this—two properties down from Hobo Mickey’s—and—oh, no!—a black pickup just pulled in to the "Vagabond Mike's" lot and then pulled back out, as though he was accustomed to it being open for Friday lunch and now it’s not.

Did my apathy kill "Vagabond Mike's?"

[1] Given that I’m honestly not sure what’s going on with this place, I certainly don’t want somebody to Google upon this post and decide not to head over there for dinner tonight if it turns out that "Vagabond Mike's" is still open.


  1. What is a United States Department of Agriculture Service Center?

  2. What is United Central Industrial Supply? How does Schwan's work? What's the story with Daymar?

  3. I love convenience stores, and the Huck's at National Mine Road and Ramada Road (not sure it's still called "Ramada Road," given that there's no longer, at least, a Ramada on it) is particularly excellent: wide array of soda and coffee choices, potato wedges, free WiFi. Here's the Huck's mission statement, framed on the wall in the dining/restrooms area:

    Huck's Food & Fuel Stores


    -- Total Customer Focus
    -- Happy, Friendly Owners
    -- Always Fresh, Quality Food and Drinks
    -- No Worries, Quality Fuels at Competitive Prices
    -- Karing for Kids
    -- Squeaky Clean Restrooms

    I'm starting to think I've typed and posted this mission statement at the HP previously.

    1. Huck's is the first big convenience store available to four-laners who bail off I-69/the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway at Exit 44, and it has a big display of Kentucky souvenirs--keychains, decorative spoons, etc. I'd like to know more about the whole travel souvenir game.

  4. Did there used to be a Ramada Inn on Old Ramada Road?

  5. There is no street sign at Old Ramada Road and National Mine Road or at its juncture with Ky. 281 (Island Ford Road), so I’m unsure of its current name. Back Old Ramada Road you can find a Days Inn, Best Western and Comfort Inn, as well as the Snooty Fox Hair & Nail Care Salon, but no Ramada.

    There is also a business in an office complex on this road called “Behavioral Consultants.”

    What is Behavioral Consultants? How did they come up with the name of the Snooty Fox? Who is staying at the Days, Best Western and Comfort Inn, and what are they doing here in Madisonville, Ky.?

    All of these are honest questions, and I’d honestly love to know the answers. People talk about the questions they’d like to ask God if they get to Heaven, and those questions seem to almost always have to do with really, really wild stuff like the meaning of suffering. I’m not saying that I’m uninterested in any of the big-ticket Mysteries, and I’m certainly not saying that I understand a lick the way anything works. But, for whatever reason, my brain just doesn’t much ask “Why?” about giant things—it never even gets there. Instead, what I think would be so fantastic about Heaven is, A, that I would get to go; B, that we would get to satisfy all of even our littlest curiosities about the here-and-now Earth that we experienced, and, C, that we would all still be interested enough in those questions to want to get them answered (Where were people going on vacation that they stopped at that old Ramada in Madisonville? … What would’ve happened had Greg Cook not gotten hurt? … What really happened to the wallet I lost right after college?). That would be super!

  6. Old Ramada Road is now called Lantaff Boulevard. This street is presumably named for O.L. Lantaff, who served as Madisonville's mayor, 1983-89. Per J.T. Gooch's Just the Other Day, A History of Madisonville, Kentucky, Revisted, Lantaff had operated a grocery for 50 years and then read electric meters around town for 10 years. Among the town's improvements during his term were construction of the town's senior-citizens center, creation of the Economic Development Authority of Greater Madisonville and implementation of 911 emergency services.

  7. Three more places of intrigue for me back in this section of town:

    -- The Days/old Ramada Olympic-sized pool, which was the site of many meets of my wife's competitive swim career.

    -- Legends, a bar at the Days/old Ramada that was formerly called "Bull's Eye."

    -- Oasis Southwest Bar & Grill, which is located on Powell Drive off Lantaff. These people have restaurants also in Franklin and Kuttawa. ("Established in 2001, The Oasis Southwest Grill is best known for our hand cut, aged USDA Choice beef grilled to your specifications. We take great pride in being the first restaurant to service our customers with cocktails in the Kuttawa, KY area.")

  8. This fascinating post will continue the next day I bum around town trying to get myself to actually complete a client project. Next time out, I plan to cross Island Ford Road (!) and check out Kroger, Lowes and Madisonville's burgeoning "Little Asia District," featuring both Mr. Wok (Chinese food) and Mt. Fuji (Japanese). The parking lot of this complex has become a huge conglomeration point for cruisers. There are always teen-agers in big trucks gathering to honk their horns at one another.