Officers contemplate ending a long time tradition that has served thousands.
Every third Friday of the month veterans from the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars gather at the American Legion Post 312 in the small town of Maple Park on the west side of Kane County just like they have been for over a decade. Floors are polished, tables cleaned and the kitchen prepped for their monthly fish and chicken fry, but now, the poor economy, rising food costs and low attendance threaten to put a halt to this “best of,” all you can eat Fish and Chicken Fry.
American Legion veteran volunteers put out a huge spread of five different kinds of fish and chicken with all the fixings to go with it. With their own recipes for coleslaw, baked beans and German potato salad customers have come in droves and devoured everything. “In the past, we have averaged serving over 400 people at our dinner but with the poor economy we’re lucky if we serve 200 now,” says Bob Neisendorf, Commander of Post 312. “Even though the help are volunteers, we are still losing money. As a non-profit organization, any profit that we make goes back into community programs, like the Maple Park Fun Fest, so losing money is not an option for us,” says the Commander.
The Post has strived to keep the cost of the dinner as low as possible. Seniors 62 and over pay $8 dollars and adults $10 for an all you can eat dinner. “You just can’t find a dinner at any restaurant for that price. We’re going to have to make some changes to both our menu and pricing in order to continue our monthly fish fry and if we can’t bring in more customers, we will have to shut down the dinner,” says the Commander.”
Maple Park American Legion Post 312 was established in 1926 and has over 100 members from all branches of the Military who have served in all recent wars.