New operator for Niland’s Café in Colo, IA

Niland’s Café, closed this summer, has reopened. The Nevada [IA] Journal reports that Sandy Wilfong has agreed to manage the property for the Colo Development Group. The food service veteran also owns Sandy’s Café in Des Moines. “‘It’s always been a dream of mine to have this style of restaurant,’ Wilfong said. ‘I signed a three-year lease, but I plan on staying here a long time.’”

Niland’s outside new

Colo city clerk Scott Berka tells me the cafe had to close from April through July while they looked for a new operator: “Cory and Tammy Strait were our original lessee’s for the cafe (they opened in December 2003). They had a three-year lease. In summer 2006 Tammy had some serious health problems and when the lease was up Cory decided to take a job that required less hours and provided benefits. We certainly appreciate the work they put forth in getting the cafe up and running.”

The one-stop, with adjacent gas station and motel, opened about 1920 at the corner of Lincoln Highway and US 65, the old Jefferson Highway. Historical displays line the walls, and a 1939 Cadillac bursts from a corner of the dining room. The car-themed menu has entrees like the Route 30 Pileup, a roast beef dinner, and fried bologna. Fridays feature all-you-can-eat fish with salad bar, fries, and cole slaw; Sundays are all-you-can-eat fried chicken.

Niland’s from station

The town and café hosted one of my most fun book signings ever in 2005, when hundreds of locals turned out, most of whom had helped restore the café and gas station, loaned artifacts and photos, or donated to the effort.

Here, Dan Halferty and Brad Snodgrass help me at the table, with Scott Berka in yellow directing the line.

Niland’s Booksigning
Here’s Scott at the counter:
Niland’s, Scott at counter
And Scott sent this picture of me signing a book for descendant John Niland with Jim Hartwig next in line.
Scott’s pic-John Niland
Stop in, even if just for a piece of pie and a big slice of fun. Cafe hours:
Tue–Thur: 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Fri–Sat: 6:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sun: 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Closed Mondays.

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