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Everette and Betty Lee show no signs of slowing down at the Junction Cafe

By Jan Castle Renander

Everette and Betty Lee at the Junction Cafe in Bedford.

           Every small town has a fixture café. In Bedford, that is the Junction Café and just as much a fixture as the café are its owners, Everette and Betty Lee. They purchased the restaurant 18 years ago, but their story begins a few years before that.

             The couple met and married 20 years ago, when Everette answered an ad – not a personal ad, but a for sale ad placed by Betty.

            “She was married and widowed, and I was married and divorced,” Everette explains. “She had this horse trailer to sell and I came to look at the horse trailer. We’ve been horsing ever since!”

            Everette grew up in Villisca, while Betty graduated from Hopkins, MO. Both have a long history with horses and their love for the Junction Café is equaled only by their love for horses.

            “I don’t remember when I didn’t ride or have horses,” Everette says.

            “I showed for 25 years,” Betty adds.

            The couple married and settled into life in Bedford. Working, raising and riding horses. Their horse farm, Rockin’ Diamond, kept them busy and happy.  Owning a restaurant was nowhere in their plans. Then Betty lost her job at a Bedford factory where she’d worked for 25 years.

            “The Junction Café was for sale and Betty got laid off,” Everette explains. “I was selling feed and on the go all the time, so we came down here and talked to the owners and it wasn’t very long before we bought it.”

            Both Everette and Betty had restaurant experience. In fact, Betty had worked at the original Junction Café, before the current one was built in 1962. So Everette and Betty forged ahead. They quickly developed a reputation for meals, just like Grandma used to make. In fact, Grandma’s recipe is instrumental in a Junction Café signature dish.

            “My grandmother had a shortcake recipe,” Everette begins. “It was old and heavy, not like the shortcakes you can buy at a store.”

            Grandma’s cake recipe formed the foundation, literally, for the Junction Café strawberry shortcake. Take a big slice of Grandma's cake and top it with soft serve ice cream and strawberries.

            “The first day we served strawberry shortcake, my sister helped me and we made 75 shortcakes that day,” Betty recalls. “And we used fresh strawberries!”

            Strawberry shortcake remains a trademark dish at the Junction Café, although Everette and Betty moved to presliced and sweetened strawberries, .

            “In this kind of weather, we go through 25 pounds of strawberries a day,” Everette says with a smile.

            Friday night fish night is another popular event, as are Sunday hamball dinners. Everette and Betty pride themselves on serving good food in generous portions.  They credit their success to that ideal, plus a lot of good help.  

            Betty has always enjoyed singing and started Saturday night entertainment at the café. As with the strawberry shortcake, she credits Everette with the original idea.

            “Betty enjoys entertaining, so we did live entertainment on our anniversary and sales about doubled,” Everette says. “Then Betty’s birthday was coming up, so we tried it again and sales went up again. So  I told her that was evidence that people liked it, so we’ve kept doing it on Saturday night. We don’t pay musicians. We just feed them. Sometimes we have seven or eight, but we’ve always had at least three or four here to play.”

            Running a restaurant is hard, time-consuming work, but Everette and Betty still find time for life outside the café. For years, they raised, trained, and showed horses. The numerous trophies on display at the restaurant give evidence to their success. They’ve cut back on horses in recent years, retiring from showing in 2000. About four years ago, they sold 54 head as they continue to downsize.

            “At one time, we run over 50 brood mares and sold a lot of colts,” Everette says. “We still raise a few colts, but we’d like to get down to about half a dozen head, just enough for us to ride.”

            Speaking of riding, that’s one of the couple’s prime interests outside the café. They still love their horses and enjoy trail rides at Three Fires State Park. Betty still loves to sing and in 2009 recorded a CD of several of her favorite country and gospel songs. The CD is on sale at the café and on Saturday nights you just might hear Betty sing one of those favorites.

            After 18 years in the restaurant business, do Everette and Betty ever think about slowing down?

            “We will someday,” Betty says calmly, while Everette offers a more complete answer.

            “We really enjoy what we do, here and at home,” he says. “I don’t know what we’d do if we did retire because we don’t travel or anything like that. And there’s no front runner to buy the café and we want the Junction Café to still be here.”

            “It’s always been a good restaurant,” Betty agrees.

            And with that, Everette and Betty excuse themselves to check in on a birthday party in the dining room. Cake and ice cream all around.


            Do you know of an interesting individual or couple for Jan’s Corner? If so, contact Jan at renanderjc@aol.com.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments:
Rockin' Diamond Quarter Horses
Everette and Betty Lee
2025 State Highway 2
Bedford, Iowa  50833
(712) 523-2282


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