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Pops opens a stand at the Tulsa airport September 6, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Gas stations, Restaurants.
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In addition to its flagship location on Route 66 in Arcadia, Oklahoma, and a satellite location at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Pops in recent days opened a new location inside Tulsa International Airport.

The report from KOTV in Tulsa:

News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Unless you’re a passenger on a flight there, don’t go looking to go there, however.

It’s past the security checkpoint, near Concourse A. [...]

Even though this Pops is smaller, it still features the best flavors you’ll find at the original store in Arcadia.

The original Pops in Arcadia features a restaurant, gas station, convenience store, and more than 500 types of soda. In less than a decade, it’s become a major Route 66 landmark.

(Image of the soda display at Pops in Arcadia, Oklahoma, by Matt Grimm via Flickr)

Joe Rogers Chili Parlor reopening under a new name July 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants.
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Joe Rogers’ The Chili Den Parlor, a landmark in Springfield, Illinois, since 1945 that unexpectedly closed in April, will reopen next month under the same family ownership, but a different name, reported the State Journal-Register.

Marianne Rogers, daughter of founder Joe Rogers, told the newspaper contractual issues with previous owners forbids her from using the terms “Joe Rogers” or “The Den” in its name. So it will simply be named The Chili Parlor.

Rogers shrugged off the name change, saying it happened before during the 1990s.

Most importantly, the recipes will remain unchanged from nearly seven decades ago.

The restaurant started in 1945 on 1120 S. Grand Ave. East, not on Route 66 but is barely a block away. But the current restaurant has since 1997 been on 820 S. Ninth St., a prominent alignment of the Mother Road through town.

Like Cincinnati, Springfield has long enjoyed a reputation as being a hotbed for chili. Springfield calls itself the “Chilli Capital of the World” (“chilli” is the locally accepted spelling). Springfield residents reputedly eat more chili per capita than anywhere else.

The beans and meat are cooked separately, which allows customers personalized orders. It can be prepared without beans, with extra beans, with extra meat or without meat. Customers also can specify how much oil they want in their serving.

(A serving of chili from Joe Rogers’ restaurant in 2009 by IronStef via Flickr)

A history of Bama Pies June 28, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Food, History, Restaurants.
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If you drive through Route 66 in Tulsa, you’ll probably notice a big beige building on the north side of 11th Street with the name Bama Pies.

It is part of The Bama Companies. This well-produced video by the company shows how it expanded from its mom-and-pop roots to becoming a multinational corporation.

Even if you’re a longtime Tulsa resident, I learned quite a few new things about Bama, and you probably will, too.

A History of the Bama Companies from Bama Companies on Vimeo.

It also shows how the growth of Bama is intertwined with another formerly mom-and-pop operation that became a corporate behemoth — McDonald’s.

(An image of one of Bama’s signs by Miles Smith via Flickr)

Springfield tunnel once was part of a brewery June 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Food, History, Restaurants, Towns.
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Last week, workers clearing land for the future site of a Route 66-themed park on College Street in Springfield, Missouri, found a series of underground rooms that probably were at least a century old.

This week, media outlets — including the Springfield News-Leader — found the tunnel once was part of the Springfield Brewing Co.

A 1969 report from Springfield Plateau Grotto, which explores caves in southwest Missouri, provided the details:

“The first cellar was 37 feet long, 16 feet wide and 10 feet high, constructed of laid Burlington stone in the classic arched form typical of brewery cellars in such places as Hermann, Missouri and the brewery caves of St. Louis,” the report reads. [...]

“Two ventilation shafts penetrated the ceiling of the second cellar; these were filled with trash, including what appeared to be an ancient stove or safe. The other shaft had been used to dispose of large quantities of soda bottle caps, among other debris,” the report reads. “The trash had been in the cellars for many years as shown by the almost complete oxidation of metal containers. These were almost entirely rust, though the ancient labels of some of the cans could still be read.”

And KSPR-TV in Springfield provided some details about the long-gone brewery:

German immigrant Sebastian Dingeldein moved to Springfield in 1876. He signed a ten-year lease on Springfield’s only brewery, and later bought it. He owned the company for almost 15 years. In that time, he more than doubled its production selling beer throughout Southwest Missouri and Northern Arkansas.

Jason Dingeldein, Sebastian’s great-great grandson, says, “A hundred years ago he would have been a well known member of the community, and, it’s just amazing to think that we have that connection.”

According to the Brewery History Society journal, the first brewery — which later became Springfield Brewing Co. — was established in 1872. For a time, Dingeldein’s company was called Southwest Brewery. The brewery eventually closed in 1911.

After that, there was no beer brewing in Springfield until the beginning of the microbrewing era in the 1990s. That includes Mother’s Brewing Co., which is right on Route 66, and the resurrected Springfield Brewing Co., which is at another location from the original.

The city hasn’t decided what to do about the tunnels, but a Public Works Department spokeswoman said its historical nature is a good fit with the Route 66 park and some sort of marker is likely.

(Image of the Springfield Brewing Co. via City of Springfield)

Woman eats two Big Texan 72-ounce steaks in less than 15 minutes May 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, People, Restaurants.
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Holy cow. A woman from Nebraska devoured two of the Big Texan Steak Ranch‘s trademark 72-ounce steak dinners in less than 15 minutes Monday, reported the Amarillo Globe-News, and set an apparent record in the process.

Molly Schuyler of Bellevue, Nebraska, reportedly polished off the first meal in less than five minutes. If the timing is correct, she destroyed the old record of 8 minutes, 52 seconds, set by Joey “Jaws” Chestnut in 2008. Since Chestnut’s record, no other eater has come close, according to the Big Texan’s database.

KAMR-TV in Amarillo reports that Schuyler inhaled the first dinner in 4:48, which would be a record. The second meal, she polished off in 9:59.

Schuyler said she wanted to take on the second 72-ounce steak meal at a more leisurely pace, so she ate it in about 10 minutes. Never mind the second attempt would have been in near-record territory as well.

The newspaper also produced a video from the event.

Schuyler is sort of a ringer — she signed with a professional eating circuit last year and has broken records at other restaurants.

The Globe-News reported that Schuyler said she wants to eat three Big Texan steaks in an hour the next time she’s through Amarillo.

A few things I learned from the Big Texan’s book about the history of the restaurant and talking to employees. First, it’s the relatively skinny competitors such as Schuyler who can usually polish off the 72-ounce dinner. Second, other people have eaten two of those steak dinners in less than an hour, but it’s only a handful.

Although the Big Texan no longer sits on Route 66, it started on Amarillo Boulevard (aka Route 66) in 1960 and advertises its Mother Road roots frequently. After Interstate 40 opened in the early 1970s, the Big Texas picked up and moved to ensure its survival.

(Image of the 72-ounce steak dinner at the Big Texan by soumit via Flickr)

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)

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