Imagine yourself taking your family to a restaurant that they had never been to. As your family is dining in the back of your mind you’re thinking… How am I going to break it to them? How are they going to take it? What will my wife say? Knowing in the back of your mind you just spent your entire life savings and retirement on a huge investment and have four small mouths to feed.
“Well how do you guys like this place? We are now the owners!” That is exactly what Larry Nelson said to his wife, Bonnie and kids 30 years ago when he purchased the Wagon Wheel. Larry, being laid off from his factory job in Conway loved to cook and knew he could make a living following his dream. After the initial shock, the family rallied behind Larry and carried a legacy of fabulous food with a local flare throughout the years. Fish, chicken fried chicken, chicken fried steak, chocolate gravy, the pies are just a few of the dishes that they are known for.
Sisters, Trish Nelson and Lavonda Nelson-Ruple have stepped into Larry and Bonnie's footsteps more recently as Larry has taken a step back from the business. Lavonda mentions, "Dad taking a step back was maybe a little hard a first, but he trusted us to carry on the tradition, and he was comfortable doing it." Lavonda waits tables and helps keep the books while Trish serves tables as well and helps in the kitchen. Trish shares, “We are close knit family that works well together! It’s hard work! Our employees are what sets us apart from other businesses though. They are the icing on the cake. We couldn’t do it without them. We have a great community as well that really is understanding and supportive. Our loyal customers are amazing.”
A typical day at Wagon Wheel begins at 1:30 AM as cook, Kay Lee arrives and begins preparing breads, pies, and biscuits. Lee has worked for the Nelsons for over 20 years. Dell Bell, Greenbrier's favorite waitress has worked for the Nelsons just as long and is a regular face that greets you as you walk through the door.
As the Wagon Wheel celebrates 30 years this month, Trish shares that some of her fondest memories are of raising her children there. “You watch kids grow up here and now I’m watching their kids. Dad always gives out quarters, and it has always been neat to see grown adults mention that they received one as a kid.”
The small town feel, walking in and knowing half of the patrons eating, while digging in to good grub is something you just don’t find everywhere. If the walls could talk at Wagon Wheel it has heard many conversations that has helped shape Greenbrier into the town it is today.
The Wagon Wheel is open 6-8 Monday-Friday. Congratulations on 30 years Wagon Wheel! Congratulations on being selected as our April Business of the Month as well.