Runza has been a big part of Ben and Jenna Thornburg’s romance.

He asked her to their first high school dance using the message board at the Papillion Runza where he worked. They had a favorite table there where they dined on many dates.

And on their wedding day last month they made a special stop there with their bridesmaids and groomsmen for a meal after the ceremony.

Ben topped off their Runza visit by placing a ring — of the onion variety — on his new wife’s finger. Of course, she had a diamond ring, too.

“It’s just a place where you feel at home,” Ben Thornburg, 22, said.

The couple met in sixth grade at Rumsey Station Elementary and started dating while attending Papillion-La Vista South High School. Ben introduced Jenna, now 21, to Runza, and she was hooked.

He worked at the Runza, which is in downtown Papillion, for a year and half in high school. He wanted to invite his now-wife to homecoming their junior year, so he got permission from the owner to put a message on the restaurant’s sign: “Jenna Lower — Homecoming?”

They had a special corner table at the restaurant for dates, and would even wait for it to open up if it was occupied. When he’d get off work he’d grab an order of fries and drive to her house, where they’d munch on them in the driveway.

Wayne Wilson, managing partner of the Runza, said there’s something about the Nebraska-based restaurant chain that leads to romance. He said he met his wife in high school when both worked at a Runza in Lincoln. Three couples have met while working at his store.

“I’m all about the Runza romance,’’ he said. “I know how it works.”

The stop the Thornburgs made at the restaurant on their Jan. 13 wedding day wasn’t the only Runza connection in the celebration of their nuptials. Along with a catered Mexican meal, they served cheese Runzas at their rehearsal dinner.

And when they left the Runza restaurant for their reception, Ben Thornburg took a sandwich to go, which he heated up in the microwave later that night at their hotel for a midnight snack.

The couple now live in North Carolina, where Ben is stationed as a sergeant in the Marine Corps.

They will return to Nebraska when his enlistment is up. Until then, they look forward to visiting family in Papillion, and making a stop at their favorite place.

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