LINCOLN (AP) — Nancee Gardner's sister schedules her flights from Ohio back to Lincoln so the plane lands during the hours that Tastee Inn & Out is open.
The sisters head straight from the airport to the Lincoln landmark — no ifs, ands or buts.
Robin LaPage's mother worked at the restaurant as a teenager. LaPage took her own children there. Twice a month she goes to eat there with friends.
John Seacrest's family loves the restaurant. They love it so much that his father, sister and brother each decided to pick up Tastee treats for dinner one night in the 1960s.
The Seacrest family ended up with three buckets of sandwiches — 24 in each bucket — and oodles of onion chips.
“Everybody thought they would be the good guy,” Seacrest said.
Tastee Inn & Out, a North 48th Street icon, conjures up memories of family, friends, first dates, marriage proposals and grease-soaked white sacks of onion chips and dip. The 65-year-old restaurant is an institution in the city of Lincoln.
And today, Lincoln residents and out-of-town visitors will add another memory of Tastee Inn & Out — the last meal.
Linda Taylor, whose father Ben Murphy bought the restaurant in 1972, confirmed plans to close the place today, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
Sales in the past three years have been down. The building is old. The equipment is old. And it's just too expensive to fix what's needed.
“I would like to thank everyone for their patronage through the years,” Taylor said, her voice breaking as she tried to control the emotion. “I'm so sorry it had to happen. Hope you have a lot of fond memories of us.”
Steve Murphy, Taylor's brother, owns the building, the land it sits on and the QP next door.
Lease it. Sell it. He's going to do something with the restaurant, but nothing has been decided.
“I'm open to suggestions,” Murphy said.
Word of Tastee's closing spread quickly on Facebook. People have been calling and stopping by the restaurant asking if it's all just a nasty rumor.
“This was the place they came to when they came into town,” Murphy said.
The news of plans to close the restaurant has prompted a few tears — and an influx of customers.
Sitting in the restaurant Friday evening, Kevin and Tiffany Edelmaier tried to come up with ideas to keep the place open.
Kevin went to Tastee as a kid, and over the years, the Edelmaiers have bought the meat and used it for Christmas dinner.
“We all took it for granted that it was here,” Kevin said.
By 5:30 p.m. the line was to the door and all the tables were taken. Outside, cars lined up to navigate the awkward and confusing drive- thru.
“Oh my gosh,” one person exclaimed in the crowded lobby. “Word got out.”
Diane Walkowiak and Bill Wehrbein ordered at the counter and then took a photo in front of the blue-and-white menu board.
“It's one of those comfortable places that didn't change much,” Walkowiak said.
The legendary Tastee sandwich, loose hamburger meat on a bun with mustard and pickles, hasn't changed over the years.
Lincoln has several landmarks, Walkowiak said, but nothing quite with the character of Tastee Inn & Out. The sign outside the restaurant, with little light bulbs and a faded picture of the Tastee sandwich, reads “Good Food.”
The reverse-direction drive-thru calls for a passenger, or a driver with long arms, to pay for and grab a sack of food.
Seacrest sat at a wobbly table Friday evening. It's all part of the Tastee Inn & Out charm.
“One of the predictable things in life,” Walkowiak said. “Until now.”
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