There is an upside to the devastating flooding in Nebraska and Iowa. With Interstate 29 shut down between south of Omaha/Council Bluffs and the Iowa/Missouri state line, travelers had to find alternative routes.
The result was noticeably heavier traffic on U.S. 75 in eastern Nebraska and northwest Kansas. We could even detect it on U.S. 75 in Midwest Messenger offices, 40 miles north of Omaha. With that, even if for a short period, some businesses could take advantage of more traffic and more visitors, especially for gas stations and restaurants.
The drivers who left or returned to I-29 at St. Joseph, Mo., may have crossed on U.S. 36 to get to or from U.S. 75, where those two highways intersect, and might have found the Cozy Café in Fairview, Kan., Cozy Café is a block south of U.S. 36, on the north side of Commercial Street, Fairview’s main drag.
And it’s been there quite a long time. Sisters Letha, Leaine and Louise Fanning built a hugely popular business from the 1950s to the ’70s. The current owner is Linda Lemkul, “a nice lady who does a fine job,” said John Keim, a faithful reader from Fairview.
“The building is a neat old place,” Keim continued. “The ceiling tiles are signed by people from far and near. An effort from the owners between the famed Fanning sisters of old and the current one, the tiles would be placed on an easel near the front door, and when ‘full’ installed in the ceiling. It’s still fun to wax nostalgic and see which ones you can spot from your neighbors or relatives.
“Patrons can often be seen with their necks craning backwards while waiting on their fare. I’ve often thought the local chiropractor should add sponsorship to at least one of the tiles.”
Cozy Café isn’t the only possibility on U.S. 75. Keim says Six Mile Café north of Dawson, Neb., “is the absolute tops.”
I’ve been there and must agree.
Do you have a restaurant bucket list? You keep saying, “some day.” Even the best cafes, diners, restaurants and steakhouses have been known to close. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
I lived in Columbus, Neb., for five years in the 1970s. I always heard of “Little Gem,” a tiny café on 12th Street in downtown. It was a favorite spot for police to stop for breakfast and lunch – at least that’s what I read every morning on the police blotter. I’m guessing service was very quick. It was just a couple blocks from my office. But I never went there. Not once.
I’m sure the menu was burgers and hot beef sandwiches and eggs and hash browns and a steamy cup of coffee. More likely than not, depending on the time of day, I was eating at Kings Food Host, Zesto or Happy Chef. All are gone today. Splurging meant going to Husker House for a steak. It’s still there, and I can still get a burger at Glur’s Tavern.
What’s your “I gotta go there some day” place? It has a great word-of-mouth recommendation. It might not be in your town, close enough that you could quickly drive there but far enough that you don’t think about it at the right time. Let me know what and where it is – before it’s too late.
Send your recommendations and reasons to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to:
Tekamah NE 68061-0239