The Pralines, Pecan Log Rolls and Nostalgia Fueling the Stuckey’s Revival
From The New York Times: In June 2020, having used her life savings to buy back the failing roadside franchise that bears her family name, (SCA board member) Stephanie Stuckey was in a Marion, Ark., parking lot in tears. The Stuckey’s in front of her was beyond decrepit; it was disreputable. A storm had opened a hole in the signature teal tile roof, and the owners hadn’t bothered to repair it. Sobbing, she called her vice president and said, “I can’t even walk into this store.” Without missing a beat he replied, “Welcome to your empire.”
She wondered if she should have heeded the consultants who warned her off the purchase.
But using everything she owned as collateral and taking out a life insurance policy with the bank as beneficiary, Ms. Stuckey, a lawyer and former Democratic Georgia legislator who was then 53, pressed on. In six months, she said, she returned one of America’s first roadside franchise operations — the prototype for today’s convenience stops — to profitability (barely), with an unexpected boost from road trippers, who took to their cars during the pandemic to avoid Covid. That helped rekindle the tradition of the family trip.
Quirky roadside attractions bring small town pride
From NPR: For small towns with dwindling populations and shrinking tax bases, luring travelers to stop and spend a few dollars is a matter of survival. Some turn to quirky roadside tourist attractions.
There’s a line in the movie “Vacation.” Chevy Chase is driving his family across the country, and he promises that just in 4 hours they’re going to see the world’s second-largest ball of twine. The movie is fiction, but attractions like that are real. Here’s David Condos of Kansas News Service.
DAVID CONDOS, BYLINE: The rural Midwest doesn’t have all the natural wonders that can attract tourists to other parts of the country, like oceans, for instance. So to stand out, some towns in Kansas try to manufacture their own larger-than-life wonders.
ERIKA NELSON: We’ve got the world’s largest prairie dog in Oakley and the world’s largest cow hairball in Garden City. Hutchinson has the world’s largest grain elevator.
Route 66 gets more neon, this time at Josey Records
Josey Records, on Route 66 near Peoria, now has a spinning neon turntable atop their business thanks in part to the Neon Sign Grant Program.
Austin landmark commission denies historic designation for LGBTQ+ bars
From KVUE: AUSTIN, Texas — Austin’s Historic Landmark Commission this week voted against historic zoning for three LGBTQ+ bars on Fourth Street, leaving the future of the entertainment district up in the air.
The commission voted unanimously to deny and indefinitely postpone the historic zoning for three locations, which house Coconut Club, Neon Grotto and Oilcan Harry’s, the oldest operating LGBTQ+ bar in Austin. That vote was in line with the staff’s recommendation on the issue.
Wildwood’s landmark pizza slice house saved from demolition, moved out of town
From The Philadelphia Inquirer: WILDWOOD, N.J. — First, they took a huge but clean bite off the top of the pizza slice house, a tasty triangle. Or maybe it was more like a piece of candy corn, where you carefully eat the upper third.
For a weird Wildwood minute on Tuesday, the top triangle hovered in the air, suspended by a crane, as the bottom part of the landmark A-frame house was placed on a flatbed.
And then the red angular structure that dates to the 1960s, when it was assembled out of a Sears kit by a bottle collector — a landmark that was either beloved or unnoticed depending on whom you asked — was on its way to a horse farm in Steelmantown in Upper Township, where a cemetery owner who had saved it from being reduced to dust was waiting.
Petersen Rock Garden, beloved roadside attraction, is for sale
From The Bulletin: Petersen Rock Garden, one of the last of the region’s roadside attractions, is for sale.
The property at 7930 SW 77th St. between Bend and Redmond and its collection of detailed structures created from and decorated with local rocks and shells, is in search of new ownership, as the family who has owned it for generations is looking to move on.
Kaisha Brannon, the real estate broker in charge of the sale, said the 12.36-acre property will officially be on the market Friday at an asking price of $825,000. That includes all the rock sculptures, the rock museum with all of its contents, two houses, an old diner and several outbuildings — as well as the 25 peacocks that roam the land.