Pekin restaurant celebrates almost three decades of family legacy, community support

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PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — Every day is about family for Liridon Rrushaj. The family feeling is a major part of the intimate environment at Mike’s Cobbler Corner in Pekin. 

“In addition to food, it’s about the people and we’re very fortunate to have great customers and the support of the community,” said Rrushaj.

His parents, Mike and Sofi Rrushaj, took over the restaurant in 1991. Their two children got an early start in the business industry bussing and waiting tables in high school. 

“So it was kind of fun to be able to—you know—wait on people, get to know the customers, meet their kids and then over the years you see their kids grow up and bring in their own kids,” Rrushaj said.

He is now co-owner with his mother. The family’s Eastern European heritage is influential in their breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes.  From cabbage dishes and catfish, to their popular cobblers and pies, the homemade dishes are all part of the restaurant’s legacy. 

Rrushaj said, “Twenty-nine years fly by when you’re having fun, so you know we’re hoping to be open another 29 years.”

But one influential part of the restaurant’s legacy now rests in the name: Mike’s Cobbler Corner. Rrushaj’s father, Mike, passed away at the end of 2018. His family continues to honor his life. 

“He loved his place and he loved his customers so in his honor we decided to rename the restaurant Mike’s Cobbler Corner to respect him and to respect his devotion to the community, his restaurant, and his employees,” Rrushaj said through tears.

Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Rrushaj said the restaurant’s staff is feeling community support and they’re grateful.  

“Kind of getting away from the day to day and being able to just escape and enjoy a good meal and kind of get that sense of normalcy,” he said.

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