Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

House of Como Still Does It the Right Way

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

House of Como Still Does It the Right Way

Article excerpt

Travelers on the elevated section of the I-164 bypass have probably often wondered about a strange, nondescript sign that appears just to the North of the Interstate on South Kentucky Avenue. A small, painted brick building surrounded by huge parking lots, a vacant retail building, what used to be the Giant Flea Market and the nearby auto auction, the sign welcomes hungry motorists to the House of Como. Patrons entering the front door are greeted by a human-sized Santa Claus statue with a two-dollar bill in his left hand. Further inside, one finds a Christmas tree, several other Santa Clauses and a tasteful assortment of Christmas lights and decorations establishing a festive mood for what will be a memorable dining experience within this quirky, distinctive anachronism of a bygone age.

As I sat waiting for my food my mind drifted back to the many independent, locally-owned restaurants similar to the House of Como that are long gone in Evansville - Joe Larvo's, the Three Coins, Wick's, Pete's Supper Club, the Pal Steakhouse, Caf Venice, the Boaster House, Dogtown Tavern - add to the list at your leisure. Within these walls we find a unique cultural anomaly - a small, culinary oasis of a bygone era which continues to thrive through the wages of changing tastes and attitudes of local residents.

All has not always been so well for the place according to Martha Hage, the wife of founder George Hage who opened the place in the early 1970s.

The Hages were previous proprietors of the Brown Derby, a memorable art deco structure also located on South Kentucky Avenue (a picture of the place is prominently displayed adjacent to the bar) which was destroyed by a fire in 1970. Again, the family- owned Como business was threatened with extinction when a small metal pot of cooking oil caught fire and smoldered causing smoke damage throughout the interior of the building.

For months in 2011 and 2012, loyal patrons looked onto the vacant parking lot in dismay from the nearby overpass, wondering if Como would ever again greet regular customers to the pleasant confines and outstanding food.

Throughout the course of its 34 years, the restaurant has greeted a loyal, firmly established following from both Henderson and Evansville, with some patrons obviously coming from the nearby Ellis Park horse racing track and surrounding businesses.

Years before his death in 2005, George Hage enjoyed playing the ponies at Ellis and other race tracks across the country - New Orleans, Hot Springs, Sarasota, Florida and elsewhere - and would travel with friends on occasional vacations. As one might expect, the walls in the front part of the building are therefore adorned with pictures from horse racing victories of days gone by, along with yellowed newspaper articles written about Como and the Brown Derby. …

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