CLATONIA, NE – Legends Bar and Grill of Clatonia has become a legend in and of itself.
In a tiny town of 231, Legends has become a fixture over the years. The business will continue, but in a different town just down the road.
“Beatrice has a lot more as far as walk-up traffic,” Legends owner Ron Tegtmeier said. “(Indian Creek Mall) has a lot of walk-up traffic and I just thought it was a great opportunity.
“Through the week, it’s quiet. On the weekend, we have a waiting line to get in. The opportunity arose for a larger town, and with that comes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday traffic.”
Tegtmeier, a Clatonia native who bought Legends in 2014, has expanded his restaurant five separate times – once for every year in business. He’s also constantly expanded his memorabilia collection.
Pictures of family and friends. Letter jackets and yearbooks from Clatonia High School – years before it merged with Wilber in 1970. Memorabilia from former Clatonia businesses, including Tegtmeier Garage which his father owned
“Everything has a story,” Tegtmeier said. “It’s around every corner. I’d really like to find someone to carry on at least part of it and keep the collection together.”
Legends of Clatonia will be renamed Legends of Nebraska once it moves, and will contain memorabilia from all across the state.
It will occupy space in Beatrice’s Indian Creek Mall on the north end of town just off Highway 77. Tegtmeier is taking over spaces once held by the Garden Deli and Woodees Diner. Mid-April is the target date for completion.
The hope is to attract a larger audience, but the decision wasn’t easy.
“I have a lot of history and pride here,” Tegtmeier said. “I really, really hate to see it lost, but I also have to look at opportunity and a constant flow of traffic.”
Tegmeier says there’ll still be a restaurant in Clatonia – it’ll just be a little smaller. The bar and party room are the sections that will remain, and they are currently for sale.
Customers are sad to see Legends leave, but remain hopeful for its future.
“It’s very good here,” Clearwater, Minnesota native Carol Makowski remarked. “I love the atmosphere, it’s cozy, warm. I recommend it.”
Clatonia native Katie Peck, who now lives in Omaha, has come to Legends ever since it opened. Beatrice will be a little out of the way of her usual route home, but she cherishes the memories made at the hometown bar.
“I was pretty much born in the bar,” she said. “I’m sad, because (Clatonia) needs something here, and I love this place. So, we’ll see.”
Tegtmeier announced the decision to leave Clatonia on Facebook over the weekend. The post had been viewed by over 12,000 users by Tuesday and received 121 shares.
“This will be such a great asset for Beatrice! Of course I’m sad for Clatonia, but thanks for all you did and for the memories!” one commenter wrote.
“Sorry u are leaving us, but we do want to wish u the best in Beatrice! We will see u there!” said another.
The outreach and reaction was beyond anything Tegtmeier imagined.
“The comments have been very, very positive,” Tegtmeier said. “A lot of my business base comes from the area around Beatrice. Around Plymouth, De Witt, Fairbury, little bit of everywhere. The comments have been very, very, very positive.”
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.