It's called Lily's Gyros, and is owned by an Italian couple and their son. Online, people claim it is the best Greek food east of the Mississippi River in the St. Louis area. Some even say it exceeds those in the city. Personally, this and a mall restaurant are the only places I've had Greek food, so I have very little frame of reference, but given what I've had at Lily's, I imagine it holds up! I've been to the restaurant several times before, but I figured a quick synopsis is in order. If any of you are within driving distance of Fairview Heights, IL, it is well worth the trip!
From the outside, it looks like a revamped fast food restaurant. Maybe a Taco Bell or White Castle? I know that it was in fact a major fast food chain at one point before eventually closing down. The building definitely looks familiar in that regard, but I'm not sure. As you open the door, you are immediately greeted by a site that makes any restaurant or building that much cooler... A small news rack with the Riverfront Times. Only the coolest of the cool serve up the RFT every week this far east. (For you non-St. Louis types, the Riverfront Times is a *free* weekly newspaper. It covers everything from important national news that impacts St. Louis in some way to concert reviews to calendars of events that are coming up. (And of course, ads upon ads for sex drive and penis extension, as most papers have nowadays :P)
I ordered my 7" Gyro and water without any major events, and finished my food in complete peace. The lamb-meat Cucumber sauce (Sounds disgusting, but it's what they use on Gyro's, and it's AMAZING!), tomatoes, and onions all combine to create a delectable flavor that you simply can not get enough of. Top it off with Soda and you've got yourself a match made in heaven. Personally, I'm drinking mostly water nowadays for health reasons. Soda isn't the best to have on a regular basis, and I'm trying to cut back different foods and such to narrow down some of my skin stuff.
I noticed their sign above the door that shows the pizzas they serve up, Greek style, and I was intrigued. I know what I'm getting next time ;D
Thinking of this restaurant does, however, take me back to the middle of the summer when I went there on my own for the first time. (I started a Wednesday ritual where I actually went out to eat *without* my parents and they went out with each other. I was a sheltered boy growing up :P)
As the man before me ordered, he didn't seem any different than other people. A bit larger and jollier, but I didn't expect to engage him in conversation. After we both got our drinks and sat at our tables, I ended up at a table caddy-corner from him, facing in his direction. We exchanged names (His name has been lost to the sands of time, for me unfortunately.) He asked me a bit about myself, and upon hearing I myself was without a fine lady friend, proceeded to offer me some life advice.
I don't remember all of the details, but it left a strong impact on me. He first told me about how he met his wife in High School, and they had been happily married for decades. He brought up many points for me to try to remember on treating a lady right and maintaining a healthy relationship. He explained the details of gentlemanly behavior, numerous tips on finding the "Right" one, and maintaining a stable household with children. For some reason, this is the advice I remember most vividly. He asked me "If your children end up directly opposing your wife, but you think the kids are right, what should you do to keep things stable?" I figured that depending on the circumstance, helping the wife view from the childrens' points of view would be optimal. He then explained to me that no matter what, parents need to present a united front. If they do not, the children will see weaknesses and, willingly or not, pit them against each other to achieve what they want. If there is a dispute, the parents should always do it in *private*. For some reason, this advice stuck with me, and is one of the few pieces I remember vividly.
Our conversation went on, and he went to a more spiritual side of things. This is when I found out that his wife had passed away a couple of years ago. I felt extreme empathy for this man, who had just shared a large chunk of his life story and numerous tips with me, as if I had known him my whole life. He explained to me that religion had helped him immensely. When he finally turned to Christianity, he found peace in his life. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I myself am a firm agnostic-atheist, but his story did make me think. For the next couple days, I did in fact try to feel a spiritual connection with deities, but to no avail.
Anyways, we talked for a while more, and finished our food. I left a few seconds after he walked out the door, waved to him in the parking lot, and have never seen him since. Every time I go to Lily's Gyros, I still wonder what happened to the man. I often keep alert, thinking I may see him as I walk in, or he might walk in shortly after me, but it has never happened. I'd love to hear him tell me his story and advice once more, so I could commit them to memory more, but I doubt it will ever happen. Ah well, I did learn from him, and have felt a bit better about life whenever I think of this encounter. If I were still a Catholic/Christian, I would assume he was sent by God. I still wonder if this could be the case... If not, it was a wonderful chance encounter that at the time I felt would change my life course dramatically. I may not have altered course that much, but I'm still doing my best to live my life better thanks to him, wherever he is now.