On the Road: Central Indiana Greasepits

The Triple XXX Family Restaurant, Home of the Drew Brees Favorite.

Last night, Hall of Fame Quarterback, Len Dawson presented fellow Purdue graduate, Drew Brees with the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl XLIV.

A Purdue graduate as well, Hank Stram coached Dawson in college and in Kansas City when the Chiefs rode to victory in Super Bowl IV, 1969.

Consisting of a hamburger steak, two eggs, potatoes topped with sausage gravy and two grilled biscuits, The Drew Brees Favorite is as scrumptuous and savory as it is hearty and filling, and it can only be found at the Triple XXX Family Restaurant (“On The Hill But On The Level,” circa 1929) in Brees’ college town, West Lafayette, Indiana, home of the Purdue Boilermakers. The Triple XXX in Indiana is one of two remaining of a chain of restaurants named for a popular turn-of-the-century root beer. The Triple XXX “Thirst Station” was a roadside destination for many along stretches of highway all over this land. I asked owner Greg Ehresman why he thought their restaurant withstood the test of time. He said, “College kids. They have big stomachs and small wallets.” He went on to say, “if not for the college, we wouldn’t be here either.”

After breezing through the Brees Favorite, I headed to my alma mater, DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana to taste — for the first time since graduating in 2003 — my favorite sandwich, the GCB.

The sheet says it all. This grease-stained sheet has hung in Marvin’s for at least a thousand years.

Marvin’s, home of the infamous Garlic Cheeseburger and many other gut-busting concoctions — The Wet Burrito, Apple Crisps, and the Stromboli to name a few — to the untrained eye is just another hangout. It’s the same place found on college campuses the world over. It’s that place that carries one basic formula: greasepit plus students’ laundry money equals legendary success.

But this was my hang out. Marvin’s would deliver right to my door. It was open late. My friends worked there. Sourced from SYSCO, the food tasted like it fell down from heaven. And just what is a GCB? My friends and fellow alums, The Paupered Chefs, sent me to find out. After close inspection, I can only report what is already known. It’s a simple hoagie roll that’s been brushed with butter and dusted with garlic powder and salt. The cheese is American. The beef is grey. The combination, a Garlic Cheeseburger, is pure fodder for the “Freshman Fifteen.”

My favorite story about Marvin’s came from a friend’s dad who graduated in the early eighties. At the old Delta Tau Delta house, which was across the street from Marvin’s, they rigged a zip line with a clip and a washer which went from their kitchen window directly into the kitchen window at Marv’s. Supplied with a pad of kitchen tickets, the Delts — perpetually a football house — would cut out the middleman and write their own orders. Five minutes later, there’d be a knock on their bedroom door: it was the Marv’s Guy to the rescue!

As I drove around my alma mater admiring the new buildings and sidewalks, I made a promise to myself. Wherever possible, I want to support local restaurants before I hand my hard-earned cash over to a corporate chain, even if it means eating at the greasiest spot in town.

10 Comments

  1. erin
    February 8, 2010

    Despite it being only 9am, you’ve given me a craving for some Marvin’s.

  2. Angelo R.
    February 8, 2010

    You have a horrible diet.

  3. M. Wastler
    February 8, 2010

    Angelo. Believe me, I know.

    erin, Crave on, sister.

  4. nick
    February 8, 2010

    These posts… On the Road.. (and my imagination) suggest that you are traveling through the heartland trying to revive Montgomery Ward.

    That task alone merits the meals pictured above.

  5. Angelo R.
    February 8, 2010

    Well at least you’re young enough where your metabolism is still a force to reckon with.

  6. M. Wastler
    February 8, 2010

    nick, you have no idea. It certainly feels like I’m trying to revive MW.

    Angelo, I’m not that young. Working on cleaning up my act.

  7. AthensStyle
    February 9, 2010

    Your blog is fantastic, especialy these posts with on the road restaurants very nostalgic. Although I never been to anywere else, apart from NY and Boston in US.
    It always surpirise me the size of food that serve in US!! For me is amazing…here in Europe, and especialy in Greece, a normal dish is half of that served in the states.
    I guess you have a constant cardio program… 🙂 or not??

  8. Bugaboo
    February 10, 2010

    I love burgers but every time I eat one they hurt my stomach. But that garlic burger looks good.

  9. larsd
    February 12, 2010

    If you want to impress the locals, call it the Tri-Chi.

  10. Jamie
    February 25, 2010

    Interesting, I think I saw something like this somewhere else…fantastic spot nonetheless.

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