Shady Bend to reopen with food & drinks

The Grand Island Independent reports that Shady Bend, a popular Lincoln Highway attraction on the east end of Grand Island, Nebraska, is being partially revived.

The mostly-cleared site has been bought by Craig Woodward, a grandson of founder H.O. Woodward. All that remains from the once-thriving site at US 30 and Shady Bend Road is the former Spanish-Revival gas station, which has been a tavern in recent decades. Still, the Shady Bend Gas Station, Grocery and Diner is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and so Woodward, his wife Karen, and their daughter Jennifer Drapel are working to reopen the bar and restaurant. The business was started in 1929 and grew to include gas, food, and lodging in more than 30 tourist cabins, but the most famous of its attractions was a buffalo herd:

“I grew up thinking that everyone had buffalo in their yard,” Craig said.

He soon realized his grandfather and father’s diner was more than the average family business.

“Everyone I run into is excited to bring this place back,” he said. “They remember the buffalo, they remember eating there and hanging out there.”

For the past few years, the Shady Bend has been rented or vacant. Craig took sole ownership at the beginning of the year.

“We truly would like to have a gathering place again,” he said.

The state LHA newsletter “Linc” Across Nebraska has an in-depth story on it in its July 2008 issue by Lenore Stubblefield, who also provided the top image. She recalls a playground, sandy beach lake, tile tennis courts, and the restaurant’s most expensive meal, a T-bone stteak for 65¢. The cabins (later apartments) closed in 1981, The station was luckily spared in 1994 and 2004 road widenings, and will again be serving travelers.

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2 Responses to “Shady Bend to reopen with food & drinks”

  1. Steven Woodward Says:

    I, personally, think this is GREAT !!! I am great grandson of H.O “Doc” Woodward. I grew up right next to Shady Bend and was over there all the time as a youth. To tell the truth, I really miss what I had growing up. Things like fishing in the local lakes and waking up in the morning with Bison in our yard and my grandfather, Loyd Woodward (Francis “Fritz” Woodward’s brother) and my father Robert Woodward out in the yard trying to get the bison removed. I miss my favorite Great Uncle Fritz and all the family get togethers that we had at there place. The Fourth-of-July celebrations were awesome !!!! I wish I was living in Neraska today because I would Love to get inolved with my awesome cousin Craig and his familily on their venture. I hope to bring my family to Grand Island soon to spend some time with my very special cousin and his family.

  2. Michelle Sullivan Says:

    This will be great. I hope they’re able to get it done. We will have to stop by every now and then as we pass through and keep an eye on the progress.

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