Steak ‘n Shake in Springfield, Mo., named to National Register

A historic Steak ‘n Shake in Springfield, Mo. Photo by Stephen Giangreco from his book “A Visual Journey Down America’s Main Street.”

The Steak ‘n Shake restaurant along East St. Louis Street (aka Route 66) in Springfield, Mo., has been added to the National Register of Historic Places effective Aug. 1, according to an email today from the National Park Service.

The restaurant at 1158 E. St. Louis St. was nominated in May, so its inclusion was expected. At the time, owner Gary Leonard said:

“This restaurant actually opened in 1962. So this is our golden anniversary here so it’s been open for 50 years and a lot of what you see here is original to 1962.”

Leonard’s restaurant is also and undeniable part of many people’s nostalgic trips down Route 66 “We see a lot of people doing Route 66 especially in the summer time. In fact, we just had a group from Czechoslovakia yesterday that came through and there from Chicago to Santa Monica.”

A 2006 article in the Springfield News-Leader explained why this particular Steak ‘n Shake stood out. In essence, the restaurant’s 1950s and ’60s features remained unchanged:

  • The main building, with a poured concrete floor, porcelain exterior wall panels and plate glass windows on glazed tile footings.
  • The rooftop and street-side neon signs, and the painted wooden sign overlooking the parking lot’s southern end.
  • The curb service window and counter.
  • The kitchen cook line, stainless steel kitchen counters and tile kitchen floor.
  • The original wood door on the rear entrance.

The Steak ‘n Shake chain dates to 1934. Unfortunately, the original Steak ‘n Shake in Normal, Ill., disappeared about 15 years ago. And, yes, that Steak ‘n Shake sat on Route 66 as well.

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