Eating Out Rockford: County Line Buffet brings freedom, fatness to local couple

Eating Out Rockford: County Line Buffet brings freedom, fatness to local couple

Editor’s note: “Eating Out Rockford” is a bi-weekly feature on interesting places to dine & drink in Rockford.  Ron Kites is not a food professional, and his opinions are not reflective of those on the RKFDNews Team, or RKFDNews Inc.

ROCKFORD, IL – The County Line Buffet on North 2nd Avenue launched in mid September, and since my portly friend Jay Vannigan has been eating lunch and dinner there almost every night since they opened, I decided it was time to loosen my fine faux-leather belt and do some research.

The husband-and-wife owners of County Line Buffet, Tammy and Finch Drabler, say they came to Rockford looking for a place where they could be themselves, and build a huge new life.

“We’re both originally from California,” said Finch, “and most folk out there, well, they aren’t so kind to big people.”   Both Finch and his wife each weigh over 450lbs, and claim that they “felt ridiculed” by the small portions and dainty preparation of West Coast food.

“It made me feel so uncomfortable to have to order all that food in a restaurant, with the waiter standing there, looking at me,” said Tammy.  “I mean, my body requires like, 7,000 calories a day.  At a tapas restaurant, it would take me over 12 minutes just to order.”  Tammy said she was constantly told by friends to lose weight, or eat healthier.  “And some people would smirk, or make comments that we ‘shouldn’t eat so much at one sitting.’  So one day, we just decided to get away from all that negativity, and build ourselves a comfortable, all-you-can eat restaurant, where we could eat freely.”

And eat freely you can, after you pay $12.99 at the cashier’s desk.  The interior of the Buffet is very bright and there is a lot of room in between tables, allowing easier access for more girthy customers — the doorway is even wider on the way out!  The next stop is the tray station where you gather napkins, straws and utensils.  Everything was very neat and tidy, and they even had a little toothpick jar where you can put your old toothpicks.  I thought that was a nice touch, because I’m always chewing toothpicks, and I have nowhere to put them.

Local very fat man scoops gravy at County Line Buffet.

After you fill up your soda (34oz size only), get ready to explore the 24 steam tables of hot foods, which feature a wide variety of foods.  Southern specialties like chicken and grits, cajun crawfritters, and double okra are down home delicious.  The Little Italy section serves up a tasty 10-cheese lasagna, alfredo carbonara, and breaded garlic “just like ‘nonna used to make”.  There’s an Oriental section with black duck pork, bong bong noodles, and there’s always an authentic Chinese man rolling fresh sushi — how neat!

There’s even a fry-your-own fried chicken station (I fried non chicken items too) with several different gravies on tap.  Other highlights: the cheesy beet gratin is to die for, the string greens were nicely sauced, but I wasn’t too fond of the 6 salad bars, most of which just featured cold chopped meat salads, all too vinegary.

“We just adore Rockford,” says Finch, in between bites of fried bratwurst nuggets.  “People here are great.  They don’t care what you look like, what kind of pickup you drive, or what color your religion is.”

“They just love to eat.”


Yummy moments: Absolutely huge selection of fried, or fry-your-own foods.  Dozens of dipping sauces.

Yucky moments:  Most handles on the serving ladles very sticky.  Sneeze guards used sparingly.  Malfunctioning ice cream machine shot milk all over my pants.

County Line Buffet
6603 N. 2nd Ave
Rockford, IL
Hours: Mon-Sat, 10am – 10pm

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  1. Susan 2 January, 2014, 13:14

    Sushi is a Japanese dish…Wontons and General Tso’s chicken are Chinese.

    Reply this comment

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