Posts Tagged ‘Colo’

Restored Colo Motel Reopens in Iowa!

January 26, 2008

Closed for 12 years, the Colo Motel has reopened, giving Lincoln Highway tourists a new-style, old-fashioned lodging option in central Iowa. It is part of the Reed/Niland corner complex that includes a cafe and gas station, both also restored. The cafe is operating and is a must-stop itself; the 1920s gas station is for display only but is set to house a country-style store.


The motel’s six rooms rent for an affordable $49.99 per night or $175 for five consecutive nights. Scott Berka, Colo city clerk, says that other than “waiting for some of the furniture to arrive,” the rooms are complete with cable TV, wireless internet, central air, pillow-top mattresses, and room service from the café. The Colo is on the forefront of restoring mid-century motels for 2-lane tourists, and also gives locals a lodging option for out-of-town guests.

Above: Stuart Huse, one of the owners of Flat-Top Concrete & Construction, the prime contractor for the project, finishes the woodwork. Above photos courtesy Scott Berka.

The roadside one-stop opened about 1920 at the corner of Lincoln Highway and US 65, the old Jefferson Highway, but declined in recent decades as the old road was bypassed. The restoration is a project of Colo Development Group and the City of Colo; it has cost nearly $1 million including $663,000 in grant funding (from the Iowa DOT’s and Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Enhancement Funding) and about $270,000 in local donations.The one-stop

Niland’s outside new

An article in the Nevada [Iowa] Journal reported on the opening, and quoted Berka and Sandy Wilfong, manager of Niland’s Café and now the Colo Motel. She praised the retro-stryle rooms and appointments such as wrought iron headboards and curtain rods, and quilts on the beds. Come Spring, Wilfong hopes to have a farmers market at the corner on Saturdays.

The motel is at 18 Lincoln Highway in Colo. Reservations are taken through Nilands Cafe: (641) 377-3663. To learn more about the complex, go to the Colo Iowa web page and click Reed/Niland corner at the bottom of the left-hand column.

Lodging restoration update – Colo Motel, Iowa

December 5, 2007

Colo sign 2Colo, Iowa, city clerk Scott Berka told me today that construction is progressing well at the Colo Motel, part of a wonderful “one-stop” restoration project in central Iowa. Painting is done and carpenters will start trimming next week, but furniture was just ordered today so it looks like it will be the first of the year before the motel reopens. Sounds like it will be ready in time for Springtime road trips!

10 x 10 white square
10 x 10 white square
10 x 10 white square
10 x 10 white square
10 x 10 white square
10 x 10 white square
10 x 10 white square
10 x 10 white square
10 x 10 white square
10 x 10 white square
10 x 10 white square

And … Colo Motel to Open Soon

October 25, 2007

Colo sign 2Just as exciting as Niland’s Cafe reopening is that the restoration of the adjacent Colo Motel is nearly complete. (That’s their sign at left.) Six units offering modern amenities in a classic décor will be available for daily rental starting December 1. The motel closed in 1995 but in recent years has been part of the one-stop’s restoration that includes a non-working gas station and operating cafe. Colo Development Group hopes to someday use the memorabilia-filled gas station as a gift shop.

Scott Berka sent the photo below of the site before restoration was started – the motel is in the middle. Click here for a much larger version.

Colo Motel small

New operator for Niland’s Café in Colo, IA

October 24, 2007

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.