All aboard for food at the New Windsor Depot

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Caitlin Diffenbaugh takes a phone order.

"New Windsor Depot," she answered.

It starts another lunch hour at the New Windsor Depot, 110 S. 5th Avenue in New Windsor, Illinois.

That's where owner Brenda Marshall keeps smiling. She's a customer who liked the place so much that she became owner in 2010.

"It takes a lot of work," she said. "It takes a lot of teamwork."

She typically puts in 12-hour days since starting this family business with her husband, Dale.

"When we came into town and opened up, everybody was just ecstatic about it," she said.

It's a new life for the once-forgotten building. Many years ago, it was a real railroad depot for a local train called The Dolly.

"They took it out of here in 1952," remembered customer Martin Allen. "I would have been 10 years old."

These days, Caitlin and the others transport food trays instead of mail and passengers. That nostalgia is part of its charm.

"You don't have that everywhere any more," said customer Tex Lutrell. "It's getting to be a thing of the past."

That's why Amy Grundstrom keeps things sizzling in the kitchen. Grilled favorites are real crowd-pleasers.

"We had the special today, ham steak," said customer Dave Schatteman. "That was good."

"Their potato salad is very good," said Lutrell.

"That's pretty good stuff," added Allen.

It takes a lot of coordination to prepare and present these meals each day.

"We just enjoy coming up here every day," said customer Nick Tschappat. "It's close and convenient."

There's a blend of history and homestyle cooking at The Depot. It's just the right combination for customers.

The Depot is important to this Mercer County village of about 700 residents. It's a gathering place for business people and retirees. Everybody feels right at home.

"It's a nice place just to get together, talk about something and have a good lunch," Schatteman said.

The Depot comes alive with cooking and conversations. Restaurant bustle replaces railroad rumbles. Sounds and aromas that keep New Windsor well fed.

"The community support is wonderful out here," Marshall concluded. "We've met a lot of friends, and it's been awesome."

The Depot is open 11 to 9 on Monday through Thursday and from 11 to 10 on Friday and Saturday.

It's all aboard for good times and food in New Windsor, Illinois.