Diamonds In The Rough

I’m starting a new category called “Diamonds In The Rough,” to feature the buildings, places, and spaces that I think have that certain somethin’ but need a little lovin’. These are the obviously overlooked and most often underappreciated places that we all pass judgement on.

The good folks at Meriam-Webster define a diamond in the rough as:

One having exceptional qualities or potential but lacking refinement or polish.

I’m eagerly awaiting for my trust fund to start rolling in and my lottery numbers to be called. So I sit patiently on the investor sidelines. But until then, I’ll be keeping my eye out for things that I think could easily come back to life with a little polish.

 Now that you see where I’m coming from, it’s time to get started…

Over the river and through the cornfields to Macomb, Illinois, home of where great minds like mine were shaped for a few formidable years – this diamond has been laying in the rough for a while. Once home to a Maid-Rite, this building has sat in a sad state for many years.

Known for their “loose-meat” sandwiches (gets me every time), Maid-Rite was slinging out beef on the lunch counter circuit with the best of ’em for years. The building is a harsh but accurate representation of what has happened to the company over time.  The brand still lingers with those who have eaten a few meat and bun sandwiches and still carries that nostalgia vibe.

This haggard shack needs a lot of elbow grease, but it is ripe with potential. It is located just a few yards off the downtown square. Being that it is a college town, there is always a steady influx of high-metabolism vultures circling.

Aside from the farmers on the periphery, it is walkable and bikeable for most of the town’s population. Heck, even the Amish can make it there by horse-drawn carriage!

Definitely a unique niche, it has that open and intimate diner feel. It won’t be able to serve the drive-thru clientele, so its patrons will have to come in and enjoy their experience. They’ll stay longer, build a bond with the brand, and future generations will be brought there by their parents to experience the same feelings when they packed themselves full of grease during late-night “cramming” sessions.


Vision is something that is needed in a time where we previously tried to take the easiest route possible when it comes to economic recovery. Hard work is also needed as it won’t be an easy route. Potential like this isn’t as hard to find as we think. It’s time to start uncovering more diamonds in the rough.


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