Several DeKalb businesses have old-time character


Cracker Jax is a vintage and antique clothing and gift store located at 118 N. 3rd St. in downtown DeKalb.

By Olivia Willoughby

Downtown DeKalb is home to several businesses that carry an old-time feel.

The DeKalb Confectionary, 149 N. Second Street, brings residents and students on what Co-owner Todd Hendrey calls a trip back to childhood.

“We try to be an old-fashioned candy store where you’d see things you remembered from when you were a kid,” Hendrey said. “It’s a part of customer service.”

Another attraction is the Hillside Restaurant, 121 N. Second St. Owner Mary Wilson said her restaurant’s unique and homey feel is one of a kind.

“We don’t have a TV and we are not a pub,” she said. “It has an eclectic style about it because it has some vintage wood and brick and well-placed antiques.”

Wilson said the menu is what really grabs customers. Everything is homemade, ranging from German to Italian and, of course, old fashioned American food.

“We also have modern items, like paninis, and a wide selection of salads,” Wilson said. “There’s something for everybody. We even offer vegetarian entrees.”

Wilson said the most important thing about Hillside Restaurant is that their dishes are seasonal. They use whatever is fresh during the season.

“In the fall, butternut squash was fresh, and now it’s asparagus and rhubarb pie,” Wilson said.

Another store, Cracker Jax, 118 N. Third St., has a vintage feel.

Owner Lauren Woods said when it first opened in 1984, it only sold vintage clothing and a few vintage items.

“It’s evolved to where we carry a lot of jewelry as well,” she said. “So we’re not as limited. We sell both vintage and new clothing, too.”

The store also holds events and parties, such as Henna events, where people can get temporary tattoos made from Henna plant dye.

“During the summer, we even have cupcakes and cake pops,” Woods said. “You never know what will be going on in the store.”

Although this place is not full of snacks, Star Worlds, 1234 E. Lincoln Highway, is DeKalb’s only arcade, said co-owner Patrick O’Malley.

The Star Worlds business was started by O’Malley’s mother Bernadette in 1985. Since then, their business has stayed open while other DeKalb arcades closed shop.

“We kept the original flavor,” O’Malley said. “It’s one big arena style. In the 80s, this place was where guys hung out. And now girl gamers are coming in, so it’s cool to see it’s not just segregated to guys. And I’ve seen that change over the past 27 years.”

Star Worlds kept the feel and atmosphere of the arcade the same as when it first opened. O’Malley said he has noticed other arcades become more modern and updated.

“They’re usually corporate America, trying to get as much money out of people’s pockets,” he said. “That’s one thing we don’t do. They miss the flavor of the classic arcade. It’s like a 50s diner. It’s timeless.”

To add to their timeless feel, Star Worlds sells tokens.

“Other arcades just use credit cards or even have customers pay $20 and let them play as much as they want,” O’Malley said. “With classic games, tokens have more character. They don’t make things like that anymore.”