to the bottom of this page to see letters and updates that have
since followed the original posting of this story.
Being a kid in Lisle, this place was always one of the biggest
mysteries to me.
A place my parents warned me to stay away from but really never
told me why.
When my friends would sleep over in the summer, one of our
favorite late night things to do was to ride our bikes
up there and spy on the
goings-on at this forbidden fortress of the kings. We'd
carefully hide our bikes in the field in back and then sneak
for a better look. As kids, we felt like Army commandos
on a secret mission. God forbid someone noticed my red reflective
bike licence sticker that I got from the Lisle Police!!
stuck to the fender of my bike and had my official" Village
of Lisle" licence
number on it. I could be identified as a spy! And it was
after 10:30 at
Saturday nights were the best for spying. On weekends,
the parking lot was always filled with big beautiful cars.
seen a Mercedes
this place opened
up. The woman going into the restaurant were beautiful! They
wore furs, jewelry, long dresses and smelled like the perfume department
at Topps. Most of the men wore suits and had slicked back
I remember how many of them would be smoking cigars. (To
this day, the smell of cigars reminds me of those lightning
filled summer nights.) They all looked as if they had just
stepped out of one of those
mafia movies. I thought it was
park and retrieve their cars. And they would always hand
some guy money just before they got into their vehicle! Dollar
bills! Five dollar bills! Twenties!!
Holy crap!! What was this place?
dear, was (drum roll) Sam
Sutter's King's Palace!
|Prior to King's Palace, this building was home to the
Kings Palace sign on 53 near Warrenville Rd. (The "Standard" gas
station in the background is now a "BP" gas station)
of the marquee from just below the big sign (on left.)
It reads "WE SHALL RETURN."
sad remains of one heck of a party! King's Palace after
it "burned down" in the 70s. This site is
now the Honda car dealership on 53.
To me as
a kid, King's Palace just
seemed so out of place in Lisle.
I never understood why all these fancy people would be flocking
there! They didn't seem like the Lisle people I knew.
And where did they all come from every weekend? Again, it
was my great mystery!
so back to the spying adventures. So we carefully snuck closer.
Our mission at this point was pretty clear.. We had to try
and get a
this place! What was in there?
about an hour of ditching in between parked cars
and bushes, we finally made it up to the side of the door.
I was in the perfect position to get a quick glimpse. I
waited for what seemed like an eternity. I was stuck under
it was a hot muggy night and those stupid ants were getting
in my ripped up sneakers. I looked back for my friend and,
like most of my loyal two friends, he went back for his
bike and split! That's right.. Who knew what these people
done to us if we got busted. So he left me there hiding
at ground level watching the legs and feet of these fancy
shuffle past me and into the great mystery palace. I thought
my heart was going to beat right out of my chest!
the unthinkable happened. Like the voice of God behind me,
a man's voice asked.. "Can I help you?" And this wasn't just
a standard "Can I help you." This had the emphasis on the
"I"!!! You know.. The suspicious "Can EYE help you?"
all kids growing up in Lisle know one or two lines that
could get you out of just about any spying situation.
It almost never fails! All kids have "pre-spying" meetings
about what line there going to use that night if they get
"caught." And I knew it was the perfect time to spring
there on the ground, my face in the dirt, I looked up and
I said the line. "Uh yeah, I'm... I'm looking
forever. I figured this was the end
of the road for me anyway. I couldn't help but think about
how many cops were going to be arriving to arrest me.
to my surprise the man asked, "what kind of dog is
Holy CRAP I thought!
kind of dog??? I froze! I couldn't even say a word.
I had only prepared
myself with "the Line" but was completely unprepared
My friend and I had only discussed the "I'm looking
for my dog" line. I mean, who would have thought someone would
actually ask "What kind?"
point I could have just flew out of the bushes, ran and hoped
for the best. Or maybe I could have used one
of our other great lines like "my friend's dad's brother's
knows the owner's good friend...? But nope... I just sat there
waiting to pee my pants.
And then like a ray of glory from God, the man asked "would
you like to look inside?" What??? Hallelujah! I couldn't believe
it! Him and his wigged fancy lady knew what I was up to this
whole time! Slowly, the fancy people opened the door and let
me peak into the belly of "The Palace!"
was the one and only time in my life I'd ever seen the inside
King's Palace. When they opened the door, I remember the
cool air conditioned air hitting my dirty, sweat drenched
first impression was RED! Yeah, red... Everything in there
was red. There were red carpeted stairs that led up to a
lobby area. There seemed to have been red wallpaper and even
more red carpet. There was a small coat check area and a
large open doorway that led to a room that had red white
and blue chrome streamers hanging from the ceiling.This place
looked like a huge New Year's / Fourth of July party.
could hear a live lounge band playing just past the streamer
Laughing, drinking and stumbling in delight. I wondered
how all these old fancy people could be having such a good
Maybe the color red and the sound of a bad lounge band
what old fancy people really wanted out of life.
never imagine anyone we knew in this place. And after
only a few seconds, I realized that I was completely out
No line would ever work for me in this place. I remember
how one of the fancy ladies looked at me when I peaked
in. She gave me a sympathetic little smile. I felt like
I was a little alien or something. I quickly turned my
little alien butt around, thanked the couple and headed
it was quiet. Except for the hum of traffic on 53, it was
peaceful again. I felt like I had just experienced another
planet! And being outside, picking up my bike and riding
home through the dark field, I felt like I was the normal
one. And those people...
loud "fancy people" laughter.. Those streamers... That terrible
lounge band... They were the aliens! Not me. I was just glad
to have escaped. I couldn't wait to tell my "loyal" friend
all about it!
the secret. Remember when we had to sell those stupid chocolate
bars for school? You know, sell 50 boxes and you get a Bozo
notebook and a pen with glitter floating in it? Boy did they
know how to work us kids! I think if you sold 800 boxes it
help defray the cost of a 3-day trip to Springfield with
the History club. Your parents then would only have to pay
$200 instead of $225.
My sister once brought home a box of
those bars to sell for school. She went through every neighborhood,
to every store, even to our parents. She could not sell a single
one. The only people that "bought" them were us kids.
And we swore that
we would pay her... You know, "as soon
as we got the money." We had to find consumers for this crap...And
soon! But who???
hit me!!! The fancy people!! The wigs, the red carpet people!!
The scores of happy aliens that I saw flooding out of "The
Palace" The money!! Oh boy did we have an idea!
So we waited
for nightfall. Dressed in our shabby t-shirts, cut-offs and
summertime bare feet, we gathered up the chocolate bars and
started out across the field to Kings Palace. It was about
this time we noticed our 3-legged little dog following us
through the field. He lost one of his legs on 53 a few years
before. He got along just fine. And I think he felt that
tonight was "his" night to go check out the fancy people
at the Palace. So we found a piece of string for a leash
and off we went. Walking through that dark field, we could
hear the sound of the fancy people getting closer and closer.
Their cars, their laughter, their perfume and cigars lofting
in the night air. We walked right up to the door and "hung
out" and waited for the celebration inside to let out..
then, before we knew it, the real action started to happen.
elegant, beautiful, fancy people, that we had watched going
now coming out after dinner and "whatever." The
woman, heels in hand, were giggling and stumbling and their
crooked. The couples looked as if they had just
been through a wind tunnel. They would be laughing and
talking... And then their eyes would land on us. To them
we must have looked like vagabonds! Our clothes were shabby,
(C'mon, it was Summer!) we were barefooted. Oh, and what's
this? Oh my! A cute little dog with only 3-legs! The fancy
woman couldn't get to us faster! The 3-legged dog was the
ultimate attention getter.
woman would always ask questions about the dog. We would
tell them the story but I'm really not sure they'd
hear us. They were too busy saying "ooh, poor thiiing, he's
so cuuute." After they would fall completely in love with
the dog, it was time to get to work.
We're selling these delicious chocolate candy bars for our
school project. Their very good and you would really be helping
us accomplish our goal?" (Whatever that goal was) Would you
care for one please?"
big secret! Not only did these "aliens" buy the
chocolate bar... But they were giving us fives, tens and,
then, twenties!!! For one chocolate bar! Sometimes they
wouldn't even take the chocolate. That was ok! We weren't
in the least!
home through the field that night, we all made a secret pact.
The pact was none of us would ever reveal our "secret" to
selling those chocolate bars. My sister went on to be a major
in the Lisle Jr. High candy bar sales force. Yes, She was "on
top of her game!" No one knew why.
Palace remained a mystery to me for the years that followed.
Their giant "white tent" parties with belly dancers,
sitar players, sports stars, mimes and even big chunks of
to look like birds! This place seemed so over the top for
Even Sam Sutter's daughter was probably one of the town's
most "over the top" beautiful girls. I mean..What-was-this-guy's
when we were awoken one winter pre-dawn morning by my mother's
yells. "Get up! Kids get up!" We all jumped out
bed and looked
to see flames
out of the roof of King's Palace. It was unreal to say
the least! The Fire Department was probably just getting
because we heard
sirens. Just these
40 foot massive
night sky and the fire sounding like a huge crackling
I watched the firemen shooting the water on what was left
of the building,
I noticed a side door was partially open and I positioned
myself to be able to get a quick look inside. I could see
left of some of the red carpet.. Some red wall paper and
some red white and blue metallic streamers.
But I didn't see any fancy
not sure whatever happened to Sam Sutter or his beautiful
I was home, I drove up Warenville Road. The Sutter house
is still up on the hill but you would never notice. It's
completely overgrown and abandon.
field (our field) behind King's Palace is now "Honda of Lisle."
In fact, the owner of Honda owns most of the sourounding
area. He has bought up most of the lots and homes sorounding
Honda in preperations for expanding his little empire. Most
of the homes he bought, he has burned
to the ground and are now empty lots. He has made rediculously
low offers to purchase the last two homes. The homes are
both sorounded by his now aquired land and they are the only
obsticles to completing his huge parcell. So far the
home owners haven't accepted his offers. I think he knows
the owners are old and it's just a matter of time.
Oh, just for the heck of it,
I entered "King's Palace" on the Google search
entered a few of the Sutter's names on Google... Nothing.
As always... A
*Since the original posting of this story, we have
been flooded with letters, questions, rumors and
even pictures all having to do with Sam Sutter and
King's Palace. It's pretty clear to me now that I
wasn't the only person to find this guy extraordinary.
The world had Elvis and Tom Jones.... Lisle had Sam
Scroll down to see the latest entries.
The following are letters from former "Lisle-lites" trying
to shine a little light onto where the legendary SAM SUTTER
is today. Read some of these.
Notice that they all have "The King" placed in
different places! Again I ask... What is it about this guy?
And can someone
tell me what kind of cologne this man wears? I have to get
If you've had a "Sam Sutter sighting," please write
and let us know. Photos would really be appreciated!)
Sam Sutter currently owns/operates a bar on the outskirts of Sandwich called
The Hideout. It's the only place in the area open past 1 AM
and it is always
wonderful site! You can spend hours! Thanks for the gift!
Here is some news on Sam Sutter...... He owns the new restaurant/bar -- BRASS
in South Barrington just off I-90, across from the Mill Rose Brewery. I think
he still even sings there on occasion.
at Barrington High School and had the pleasure of his grandson,
my Film class. Nick is the spitting image of Gus (except blonde)! I saw his
face, heard his last name, and just knew he was one of the Lisle Sutters! I
have fond memories of the Sutter boys on their motorcycles in the Buss
driveway, picking up my sisters. I was only about 9, but I had such a crush
Mary Ellen (Fischer) Johnson
solve the mystery....I worked at the "Palace" as
a cocktail waitress, I dated Randy Sutter for most of my
high school days, having lots of memories at that house on
the hill.... They now own Café La Cave in
Rosemont, IL. and most of the kids work there...even Kim...Rose,
unfortunately passed away this last year..she was a sweet
and hard working lady...as far as Sam goes I heard he had
a bar somewhere..not sure where though....This is a great
web site..Hope this helps.. I'll share more another time...
knew of, Sam was in Ottawa operating a bar/pub called, I
think "Cheetah" (not sure of spelling.
Prior to that, he had a restaurant in Lombard, then he sold cars, then he had
a pub called "Sam's Place" in St. Charles, then a place in Sandwich,
He moves around a lot - but he's always into something other than retirement.
is now running the Cafe La Cave located at
2777 Mannheim Rd DesPlaines
His mother Rose died earlier last year and used to own and operate this restaurant.
Randy's x girlfriend and homecoming queen Mary Ellen Fischer is now living
in Michigan and is happily married with 3 kids. ( none are Randy's). They remain
friends to this day.
Jimmy 'T-bone' Kelly
some story to find. i was a busboy there in the 70's. gussie
was a year older than me, everyone loved him, and i sold
randys band guitars n stuff years later when i worked at
the short-lived lisle music center. the boys were each legends
in their own right, i watched georgie beat up the gym teacher
in high school. they were always good to me, as was their
hard-working mom. may she rest in peace.i learned so much
from her. sam was larger than life, and the whole kings palace
era left an indelible impression on me. brilliant. thanks.
T-Bone! Yours is probably the most entertaining letter
yet!! I'm not sure why... Maybe it's the part about Georgie???
Anyway, you'll be happy to know that the mystery of where Sam Sutter is located
has finally been resolved. Myself, along with longtime Lisle-ite Kathy (Buss)
Keeler tracked him down at his amazing restaurant / bar called BRASS in South
I felt like I was shaking hands with a legend! He still gets on Mic and entertains..
Talks with guests at there tables and makes you feel like you're more special
than you really are. His place is the epitome of cool... He is truly a classic!
Go to BRASS... Talk with Sam and you'll know what I mean! They really don't
make 'em like this any more.)
truly with Kathe (Buss) Keeler and the man himself...
After all these years... Sam Sutter!
|Here is your's truly with Sam's unbelievably beautiful
daughter Kim. When she walked into our class reunion, the
waters parted! Most were stunned. Again, the Sutter magic!
it was strictly a rumor, I heard the King's Palace restaurant
(which my family visited once in 1974) was torched when the
owner got involved with the mob. But I'm not sure what the
real story is. I suspect the fire was caused by something
electrical or some other type of accident. Obviously, however,
the restaurant was never rebuilt.
Courtesy of Steve and Kristy Wavra of Lisle are these gems.
The first is a place mat from the table, and the other is a postcard.
image to see the larger view.
image to see the larger view.
I'm sending these pics of Sam Sutter/King's Palace treasures,
which commemorated the celebration of 76.
They are curtousy of Glen Canale, who came across them strored
away in his archives.
They are an original King's palace ashtray and coaster.
image to see the larger view.
image to see the larger view.
visit Sam Sutter's restaurant today called "BRASS".
Those who visit are likely to see Sam Sutter himself walking around and chatting
And yes, he even picks up the microphone just as he always had.
your comments, stories or pictures!
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