The 4 Women on the Route restaurant and souvenir shop on old Route 66 in Galena, Kan., has undergone significant changes in recent weeks — including a name change.
The former Kan-O-Tex gas station at the corner of Front and Main streets has seen renovations to its exterior — including adding a restroom — and repaving the parking lot.
Renee Charles, one of the original four women of 4 Women on the Route, in a phone interview Monday said she owns the station along with one silent partner. One of the other “4 Women” charter members, Melba Rigg, will continue to help operate the business.
One of the big changes is 4 Women on the Route will be renamed Cars on the Route — a reference to the station’s history of sparking one of the key characters of the 2006 Disney-Pixar movie “Cars.”
The name change not only was prompted by the station’s ownership change, but also due to one of its charter members, Betty Courtney, dying at age 79 in 2010.
Charles said Cars on the Route has phased out the restaurant part of the business. It would still offer snacks, drinks, and perhaps sandwiches to visitors. Much of the space inside will be devoted to Route 66-related souvenirs.
“We’re not going to do a lot of changes,” Charles said. Tow Tater, the 1951 International boom truck that inspired the Tow Mater character in “Cars,” will stay on the property indefinitely. Charles said a firetruck and a police car also will be repainted in the colors of Red and the Sheriff of Radiator Springs from the film and parked at the station.
Charles said she hopes to have all the work done at the station by mid-April. Eventually, Charles says she hopes to add architectural neon lighting to the station’s exterior.
Cars on the Route is directly across the street from the revitalized Galena’s Murder Bordello — a former 19th-century house of prostitution that was owned by the murderous Ma Staffleback. The owners of the Murder Bordello hope to have the house finished within the next 90 days. Cars on the Route is partnering with the Murder Bordello to sell tickets for tours of the home.
(Photos courtesy of Dan Imming)