A sense of American pride and respect for veterans has been instilled in Carolyn Wilson since she was a little girl.
When she was 6 years old, her father and uncles returned home from World War II, bringing with them a 48-star American flag that hangs today in her Davenport restaurant, Mary Sue's Cafe.
"They threw me up in the air, saying, ‘We're home, we're home.' " she said. "It just made me feel like I wanted to be a soldier. But that never happened."
When Wilson opened the cafe in 1986, she wanted to incorporate her patriotism into the restaurant decor. In addition to the 48-star flag that predates Hawaii and Alaska becoming states, the walls of Mary Sue's are adorned with all manner of red, white and blue decorations. The tables are covered in patriotic tablecloths. Even the Chicago Cubs memorabilia fits the color scheme.
The food fits the all-American theme as well, with biscuits and gravy, chicken-fried steak and American fries on the menu. Wilson focuses on Southern food since she is from southern Indiana, near the Kentucky border. She used to serve grits, but she said they never caught on in the Quad-Cities.
Mary Sue's signature dishes are The Disaster, made of American fries and scrambled eggs with sausage or chipped beef gravy on top, and The Wreck, a combination of American fries, ham, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, cheese and tomatoes, both for $5.
The most expensive item on Mary Sue's menu is $6.50, with most items costing $5 or less.
"It's important to our family to keep prices low because people can't afford high prices," Wilson said. "We want quality food, low prices. Quality food brings in quantity, and low prices brings in quantity."
While Mary Sue's signature dishes are large and contain their fair share of things such as cholesterol and calories, regular customer Pat Kelly said you can eat healthy there. Recently, he's been ordering scrambled eggs and oatmeal with blueberries for health reasons.
"Now, if you want to know what I really like, it's home fries and soft eggs and ham and lots of sausage," he added.