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Waynesville candy shop’s promotion leads to controversy and publicity March 4, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Food.
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Today, the Route 66 Candy Shoppe in Waynesville, Mo., will give free fudge to any customer who weighs 300 pounds to mark Fat Tuesday.

KSPR-TV in Springfield, Mo., (video is at the link) reported it as a stunt — and reported a bit of a controversy:

The owners say it’s a fun, light hearted way to market themselves but some say it’s offensive and wrong to make fun of what they call an obesity epidemic.

“We are not trying to make a statement or offend anybody. We are just inviting them to come in and have a good laugh,” said candy shop owner Charley Dill.

“It may be a joke to them but to other viewers they can’t help it, some will die because of obesity, no one should ever make fun of it,” said Deb Czuprynski.

The story has been picked up by CNN.com, giving the business nationwide publicity. The Route 66 Candy Shoppe’s Facebook page says its number of “likes” has more than doubled in the past week.

The owners — including one, Charley Dill, who acknowledges he looks like hefty comedy actor Dom DeLuise — have stayed out of arguments over their campaign, except to thank media outlets that have reported the story.

And the candy shop says it is considering other stunts, such as free candy to pregnant women on Labor Day.

In a lot of ways, this is much like crazy stunts other Route 66 businesses have pulled over the decades. Do you think the Big Texan Steak Ranch would be as prominent today without its “Free 72-Oz. Steak” offer?

Well played, Route 66 Candy Shoppe. Well played.

UPDATE 3/5/2014: Fat Tuesday is over, but the story still is bouncing all over the Internet. The number of “likes” the shop has on Facebook has quadrupled (to more than 1,800), and several customers said the business was “packed” all day Tuesday. And Dill has been profusely thanking Debra Czuprynski, the woman who thought the stunt was in bad taste.

(Route 66 Candy Shoppe co-owner Charley Dill with a chocolate cheesecake truffle)

Vic’s Pizza in Springfield closes February 28, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants.
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Vic’s Pizza and Pub, a mainstay on old Route 66 on the north side of Springfield, Ill., since 1948, recently closed its doors, reported the Springfield State Journal-Register.

The closing must have happened shortly after Valentine’s Day. Its Facebook page shows normal postings through that date, then nothing.

The newspaper reported:

“Business was slow and it caught up with us,” owner Brian Mulcahy said, referring all other questions to Marine Bank, which holds the business’s mortgage.

Springfield restaurateur Joe Rupnik said a bit of Springfield’s history passed with the closing of the business at 2025 Peoria Road, where its black-and-white checkered sign greeted travelers for decades.

“There are (Springfield) transplants when they come back to visit who have to have a Vic’s pizza, Joe (Roger’s) Chili and a horseshoe,” said Rupnik, who owned the pizza parlor for 13 years before selling it to the Mulcahy family in 2011.

The State Journal-Register also posted this bit of history:

The parlor was named after original owner Vic Fabro, who opened the business in 1948 with wife Marcy after the Springfield couple returned from visiting relatives in New York.

The Fabros brought back a souvenir — a family recipe for a homemade, thin-crust pizza dusted with cornmeal and topped with a unique sauce that became the signature dish for Vic’s Pizza.

Vic’s also served this awesome-looking “Vic’s on Route 66″ pizza in an extra-large.

(Hat tip to Dave Todd)

A sweet old look to a new Waynesville building February 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Food, Preservation, Toys.
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This article was going to be primarily about a new candy shop in downtown Waynesville, Mo. More on that later.

But first, it’s intriguing how the shop’s landlord transformed a vacant lot with a new building that manages to sport an attractive but old-fashioned look.

It is Roubidoux Square at 115 N. Benton St. (map here), a short stone’s throw from Route 66 in the center of Waynesville. The brick-and-iron facade structure comes with a courtyard and a fountain. It contains five business tenants, with a sixth coming soon:

The candy shop’s co-owner also said I Love Ice Cream will open within a month.

A recent article in the Waynesville Daily Guide reveals Roubidoux Plaza (named after the nearby river) is the brainchild of Ursula Lebioda and We Can Development. The company wisely wants to revamp older buildings and keep downtown’s quaint appearance.

With the vacant lot that was a Western Auto store, that wasn’t possible. But that doesn’t mean a new building to fill the space can’t have a classic look. It’s clear the owner had that in mind:

Lebioda said that the company decided on the name Roubidoux Plaza because they wanted to tribute the site to a historical, classic Waynesville favorite.

“We are proud of where we live and want to share a common name that’s a huge part of our town.”

Other city planners and developers should take note. Yes, old buildings should be preserved. But if that’s not possible, a new building should complement the appearance of a town from the Route 66 era. In my opinion, the folks who built Roubidoux Plaza are doing it right. Not only do you give suitable spaces for small businesses, but the look of the new building doesn’t look out of character from Waynesville’s historic downtown.

Back to the Route 66 Candy Shoppe. It’s decorated with old items from the farms of the co-owner’s parents and grandparents. According to a recent article in the Daily Guide:

“We were really going for an old-fashioned theme,” said Charley Dill, who co-owns the shop with Daniel Kallman. “We wanted it to be like Oleson’s Mercantile on ‘Little House on the Prairie.’”

That’s one goal Dill and Kallman definitely reached, with the small candy store having baskets of candy that look like they can from a different era, as well as glass bottles of coke, a seemingly endless variety of taffy, and an assortment of other items that many people haven’t seen in years.

A cotton candy machine, boxes of candy cigarettes, Bubble Tape, Moon Pies and wax lips are just a few of the other countless candy creations the shop owners sell.

Its website‘s slide show also will likely take you back. I saw images of Black Jack gum, Chase’s Cherry Mash, and GooGoo Clusters.

(Images courtesy of the Route 66 Candy Shoppe)

How a winery in Stroud became a tourist attraction January 16, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Food.
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The Journal-Record in Oklahoma City recently published a long feature, via the Associated Press, about StableRidge Vineyards along Route 66 in Stroud, Okla.

The story about winery, which has operated for nearly 10 years by Don and Annetta Neal, contains these fascinating nuggets:

  • The main building of the site is a former Catholic church.
  • Annetta was a schoolteacher for more than 20 years.
  • The couple was inspired to go into winemaking by the film “A Walk in the Clouds.”
  • The winery is a Certified Indian Business because Annetta is a member of the Cherokee Nation.
  • The couple has a small vineyard in Stroud, but also in other areas to spread the risk from Oklahoma’s fickle weather patterns.
  • The couple won a gold medal in the 2006 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition that included 4,000 wines from 20 nations.

It’s worth reading the whole thing.

(Image of StableRidge Winery by Paul and Christa via Flickr)

A visit to the Comet II Drive-In December 31, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants.
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Continuing KOB-TV’s series on iconic New Mexico restaurants, here’s a look at the Comet II Drive-In in Santa Rosa, N.M.

More about the PDL chile from the City of Santa Rosa website:

Puerto de Luna is also famous for “PDL Chile” a unique strain of chile that has been cultivated here for over 100 years. Look for specials on local restaurant marquees or menus boasting PDL Chile.

That also tells me that if you’re in the Santa Rosa area sometime around Labor Day, you’d better pick up some of those green chiles. They’re fresh out of the fields that time of year.

I also recommend the pie at the Comet II as well.

(Image of the Comet II Drive-In by Pete Zarria via Flickr)

A visit to the Silver Moon Cafe December 24, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants, Television.
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KOB-TV in Albuquerque has started a series on “iconic” New Mexico restaurants.

One of them is the Silver Moon Cafe, on Route 66 in Santa Rosa. Here’s the video:

As for claiming it is the first place where westbound travelers can get a true taste of New Mexico, there’s at least one place in Tucumcari that might disagree. There’s even a place near Oklahoma City that might dispute that as well.

But there’s little doubt the Silver Moon is an icon. It’s been serving travelers since 1959.

(Image of the Silver Moon Cafe by Phillip Hughes via Flickr)

A chat with Cowboy Gelato’s manager December 1, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants.
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KC Keefer on his Genuine Route 66 Life video series posted this brief interview with the general manager of Cowboy Gelato, located along the historic Sixth Avenue District (aka Route 66) in Amarillo.

Only in America could you combine an Italian dessert with a western theme.

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