Johnny’s Café

Written By: nppladmin - Jul• 15•21
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on July 2, 2021

Welcome History Fans! Today’s Facebook Friday History features a look at Johnny’s Café.

Now, I love a good cafe/diner. The food is usually comfort food with delicious milkshakes and homemade pie. While perhaps not the healthiest of meal options, the food is definitely nostalgic and brings back good memories. I LOVE the first photograph showing Johnny’s Café (which is actually a postcard!). I can just imagine people getting on or off the passenger trains, going through the North Platte train depot (which you can see at the end of the street in the postcard), and coming out the other side, to find a place to get something to eat. This postcard is actually from the SECOND Johnny’s Café. Read on for the whole story!

Johnnie’s Café opened June 5, 1945. The hours of the café were 7:30AM-2PM and 8PM to 2PM. The advertisement states that Johnnie’s Café would feature noon day business men’s lunch, sandwiches, pies, and cold drinks. “Our aim will be to please you, with good food and service in a nice clean café with modern fixtures. –Lloyd B. Johnson, Owner”. We see the name on the advertising quickly change to Johnny’s Café (Johnnie/Johnny-different spellings) and stays that way through the rest of the story.

In 1945, newspaper articles and advertisements state the location of Johnny’s Café as 516-518 N Jeffers. However, most of our readers probably remember Johnny’s Café located on 6th and Pine Streets (now Bailey), behind the Pawnee hotel/in the Continental Trailways Bus depot. So we encountered a little “history mystery”!

In trying to figure out what happened between 1945 and 1970, I combed through the North Platte City Directories to find the answer. And sadly, the city directories are spotty through the war years and the Library only has 1942 and 1947 and 1950. This researcher is guessing that Johnny’s was opened in 1945-1946 at the 518 N Jeffers location and CLOSED because the owner, Lloyd B Johnson left to serve his country during wartime. Therefore, the business closed at the 518 N Jeffers address.

Then in 1957, John Garrick begins working as an agent for the Continental Trailways Bus Lines, located at 220 East 6th Street. Lloyd Johnson (former 1945-46 Café owner) is back living in North Platte and working as a recruiter for the United States Air Force. The bus depot has Anderson’s Terminal Coffee Shop in it at the East 6th location. The bus station sits on the corner of 220 East 6th and 522 N Pine Streets. So, although confusing, this is actually the same building, but because the building has separate entrances on both streets, the Bus Terminal starts out with the 220 East Sixth Street in the late 1950’s and by 1960, the main entrance has been “relocated” to the Pine Street side of the building.

By 1960, Anderson’s Terminal Coffee Shop is now called Johnny’s Café! Eureka!—I think I figured it out, I think? John Garrick is listed as the owner/proprietor of both. And he stays the proprietor of both until 1968. This IS the Johnny’s Café that most of our older readers will remember.

In 1968, Donald and Charlotte Meyer become the bus agents for the Continental Trailways bus depot and Johnny’s Cafe is still listed on site. John Garrick now lists working at the “Central Bar” as his place of employment. In 1969, the Continental Trailways Bus Depot is showing Regina M. Bollwitt as the operator/agent for the bus and Johnny’s Café is gone.

It is of note that the information printed in a City Directory was gathered the prior year, so it is likely that Johnny’s Café closed for good in 1968.

The photographs, pictures of matches, and postcards are all from the Johnny’ Café that was in North Platte at the 522 N Pine Street. The newspaper advertisements and articles are from both Johnny’s café locations, so be sure to look at the newspaper dates for identification.

And in case you are wondering, the Continental Trailways Bus Depot, along with Johnny’s Café were all torn down during the urban renewal about 1970, to make way for the business area where Alco (used to be), Brothers, Tempura, and Ace Hardware currently are currently located.

Readers, please view the attached pictures and advertisements—there is a fascinating article from 08/08/1945 that lists people and businesses that contributed $983.00 for the North Platte Canteen!

Thank you for sticking with me through the history journey. So many times, history is lost and when you dig in and look, you frequently uncover things you never knew! AND… If you remember Johnny’s Café or any of the people mentioned here, please add a comment with your memories. Thank you folks! See you back here next week for more North Platte History!

Have a HAPPY and SAFE 4TH OF JULY!!

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