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Saluting Big Sarge at Abingdon’s Quinn’s Corner

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Each day is like a three-ring circus at Quinn's Corner, 109 South Monroe Street, Abingdon, Illinois.

"This town takes care of us," said owner Rick Quinn.

And like culinary P.T. Barnum's, they give Abingdon what it wants.

"If you take care of the people, they'll take care of you," he said.

It's food philosophy for Cookie and Rick Quinn. Army veterans who set up shop in 1996, they're proud to serve their massive signature dish these days.

"It's a five patty sandwich with cheese and bacon on each patty," Rick said.

They call it the Big Sarge Burger.

"She takes some of the Gator sauce and slaps it on there, too," added "Sarge" Carl Austin, the burger's namesake.

It's a foodie salute to military recruits before they hit the Mess Hall.

"Each patty represents a branch of the service," Austin said.

Inside the friendly dining room, it's also lunch time for Quinn's Hens.

"We're pretty locked together," said Eleanor Landon, one of the founding members. "We really are."

A fun-loving group of ladies, they come for friendship and food each Monday through Friday.

"Every day, there's something that we can just kind of build the day on," she said. "We have a lot of fun."

Good buddies who swap stories and share smiles. It's a feast for friendship.

"We have a wonderful time," she said.

On this day, Galesburg FM 95  D-J's Ted Bevenour and Eric Hanson join Sarge Austin.

"As you can see, this thing's a monster," Sarge said, holding the huge burger.

They're taking on his namesake, one bite at a time.

"No problem," said Bevenour.

It's a bountiful burger.

"Start from the bottom, then rotate," Sarge suggested.

It features more than a pound of ground beef and a mountain of french fries.

"You need a little somethin' somethin' to help it slide down," Sarge coached.

All the while, steam flows from the bun and grease drips to the plate.

"It's a lot of burger," Sarge said.

This isn't lunch. It's five lunches on one plate. Sarge's kids call it something else.

"They call it a 9-1-1," he chuckled.

This mom-and-pop place has a real family atmosphere. That must explain why it became such a local landmark in Abingdon.

"This is a family business," Rick said. "My family works here."

As the lunch line grows, Rick's mom, Dixie Quinn, keeps everything moving.

Quinn's Hens don't mind staying put to enjoy the ice cream cones. They even have a photo salute on the wall.

At their table for three, Sarge, Hanson and Bevenour keep on chewing.

"I'm getting the beef sweats," Ted said.

But Bevenour manages to finish with a flourish.

"It's an amazing feast," he concluded, displaying greasy hands and sweaty palms. "I've survived the Big Sarge."

Quinn's Hens aren't too impressed by the eating display.

"I don't know if they're brave or just off a little bit," Eleanor laughed.

All of this adds up to a positive experience. Quinn's Corner is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 until 8.

"We try to make sure that everybody is happy," Rick concluded.

At this big top of burgers, they serve everything with a smile at Quinn's Corner in Abingdon.