The Range Cafe, Bassett, NebraskaThe Range cafe - it's not a throwback to a different time, it exists entirely in a different time.
It was built in the 1950s, or thereabouts, when Bassett was a big place for Iowan corn farmers to come buy young cattle to truck back to Iowa to eat their corn. Now Nebraskans grow corn to feed their own cattle, and there's not so much state to state farm commerce, at least in that way. But at the time, the Range was a very civil place for many loads of farming gents passing through Rock County.
Since then the Range hasn't changed much. I've been to the Range every few years for over a decade, and each time I go in the decor is precisely the same, the wait staff, precisely the same, the owners, precisely the same, the menu, precisely the same.
They offer probably the best breakfast in America, because the bacon and eggs are just so darn fresh. It really boggles the mind how good that North Central Nebraska bacon can be. I get the Farmer/Rancher special from the Range, and I'm quite happy. (Farmer/Rancher Special: Two eggs, hash browns, toast, bacon/sausage/ham, one large pancake - $5).
There's a back room, with a salad bar, with four kinds of mayonaise-based salads (noodles with mayo, carrots with mayo, potatoes with mayo and eggs with mayo) and iceberg lettuce with your choice of two creamy and two non-creamy salad dressings.
This is where my grandfather was a founding member of the Rock County Lion's Club, in the 1950s. You can still see the club charter hanging on the wall, across the way from the salad bar. And there's still Lion's Club 1956 decorative vests hanging from the wall. As though it were still the 1950s!
There's a hotel attached to the Range Cafe. Many basic, 50s style single rooms. The furniture has not changed, as best as I can tell. You must share a bathroom, and my parents like their bathroom privacy, so we usually don't stay at the Range when we come to town. In fact we seldom see people staying there. But the Range Hotel stays open, which is a good thing. There's a historical exhibit in the lobby on the Nebraska Sandhills, and heck the entire joint is a historical exhibit. Long live the Range Cafe, long live the lovely old couple that runs it.
Thanks for the street side picture - the other pictures are from a family visit, December 2000.