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
“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
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
“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
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.