Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Pilgrimage to Mike’s Famous Harley Davidson

Two weekends ago, I was looking for a place to eat, equidistant between DC and NYC, and near I-95, so some of the SO’s family and I could enjoy some food with my parents. The most convenient restaurant was Mike’s Famous Harley Davidson in New Castle, Delaware . I’ve passed Mike’s plenty of times in my commute to and from the tri-state area and always wondered if it was any good. I never needed to stop at that point because it’s just before (going north) the Delaware Memorial Bridge and I’d much rather get over the bridge and reach the Turnpike while I can before any traffic builds. This gathering gave me a legitimate reason to stop at Mike’s. We started our drive on a Friday afternoon that would normally take a little under two hours without traffic, but it being Friday afternoon, the drive morphed into a three-hour slug. It’s this reason that I always wait until after 8 PM before driving home.

Bikes, bikes, and more bikes.

I'm looking for a bike with chrome, got any suggetions?

The five of us arrived 30 minutes before my parents so we had time to checkout the dealership and buy some shirts. True to its billboard’s claim, there were tons of shiny and chromed bikes in the showroom. Souvenirs for us non-riders adorned every wall including Harley clothes for newborns, because it’s never too early to get them started. Since this is a legitimate Harley establishment, there was plenty of gear and accessories for real riders, in addition to a repair shop. There was a Harley museum, but we didn’t go there because 1) We didn’t know it was there and 2) Even if we had known about its existence, we would’ve passed on it anyway.

Chrome, chrome everywhere!

One thing I quickly realized about Mike’s is that it is much much more about selling and fixing Harley’s than it is about feeding people. The indoor dining area (there were a few outdoor tables) was almost non-existent. About the size of a single-bedroom apartment in NYC, there were booths along two walls (that did hold 8 adults) and 3 circular tables in the middle. The menu was what you’d expect at a Harley dealership’s diner with burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, bowls of chili, etc. No surprises there, but the options were too few and far between. All seven of us sat in a booth and were comfortable enough to make it through the meal aside from the occasional elbows. My non-interior decorator knowledge allows me to note the furniture was more industrial than comfortable. Wooden booths with little padding and metal seats around metal tables don’t exactly exude easiness for your backside. If you wanted to sit at the eating counter that faced the cashier, you had your choice among medieval torture seats that required you to alter the natural curvature of your back. They weren’t occupied when we visited.

Recipe to ride a harley: Mix 1 part chrome with equal parts leather.

What would a Harley-Davidson eatery be without the three stereotypical Harley guys sitting at the room’s center tables? I suddenly felt like I was in a scene from “Roadhouse” or any other run of the mill pre-bar fight movie atmosphere. I glanced their way and avoided eye contact so as not to seem that I was staring and asking for trouble. With their bandanas, leather vests, tattoos, and goatees, I made a mental note of the nearest wooden chair in case I had to break it over their backs. My two weeks of Karate in third grade (earning a yellow belt by the sheer fact my parent’s paid for it) probably wouldn’t have held up with those guys. I knew I shouldn’t have quit just because the class occurred at the same time as the Cosby Show.

Did I mention they had bikes for sale?

At Mike’s you go up to the counter and place your order, only to have your “waitress” bring it to the table. I swear it must be the easiest waitressing gig because you don’t have to take any orders, write up the meal’s check, or necessarily get drinks (I got up and got my own from the readily available fountain). You just have to drop off the food once its ready. Though we were joined in the room by the three Harley guys, the entire staff insisted we remember and correctly recall the table number we were sitting at so our orders wouldn’t be confused. Anyway. I got my burger and it tasted fine. By that point I would have inhaled anything you put in front of me, except chopped liver – an all-time worst tasting food, but loved by my dad.

The engine makes a lot of noise even when it's not running.

We had sat down around 7ish and before we knew it, it was 8. For some reason (other than it’s not a big part of Mike’s’ business) the restaurant (along with the entire dealership) closes at 8. All those times I considered stopping there for some food after 8 would have been a waste. I’m still flabbergasted that a place that does such heavy billboard advertising about serving food would close so early. We made our way outside, said goodbye and started our journey south, ultimately making it home in well under two hours.

For the lady riders.

Mike’s was interesting because of so many pristine Harley’s for sale in one room, but that was it. I wouldn’t recommend Mike’s as a good day trip because the food was quite lacking and you can see plenty of Harley’s together at any area dealership. Sure Mike’s might be #1 for Harley sales and service in Delaware, but what reason has anyone ever had to actually stop in the “ First State” (outside of no taxes)? Let Delaware continue to serve as that 15-minute drive between Maryland and New Jersey while we keep wondering why it hasn’t been ceded or swallowed by any of its neighboring legitimate states.

In focus pictures are so overrated.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Hey, think about Grotto Pizza next time.