Some good news and bad news emerged this week about the Elbow Inn in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri.
First, the bad news. The operators of the barbecue restaurant and tavern since 2006 stated in a Facebook post Thursday the owners gave them notice they “would like to take the place in a different direction” and that the Route 66 establishment is closed.
The good news is the Elbow Inn eventually will be reopened by the owners after a “face lift and rehabilitation” and want to restore it to its original Munger-Moss Sandwich Shop appearance of the 1950s.
In a statement to well-connected mid-Missouri roadie Jax Welborn, owners Jug and Carol Thompson denied rumors the Elbow Inn would be converted into a winery. They stated:
“The Elbow Inn will always embrace the history and be a part of the story of Route 66. And it will always be a bar. It’s just going to need a facelift and rehabilitation. The area will also be kept clean to preserve the beauty of the area.”
Welborn also posted this 1958 photo of the place, via the Thompsons:
The announcements within hours of each other were greeted with praise or derision, depending on loyalties. The Elbow Inn operators gutted and rebuilt the interior after a disastrous flood from the Big Piney River in 2017, thanks to donations and plenty of volunteer help. The Thompsons also didn’t charge rent during the downtime.
One of the most famous moments for the Elbow Inn was in 2015, when a couple of models from Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition posed on the bar’s pool table. It all was captured in a behind-the-scenes video but, alas, I’ve been unable to find it online.
The Elbow Inn long had been known for the hundreds of bras stapled to its ceiling. The bar — a favorite with locals, bikers, Fort Leonard Wood soldiers and Route 66 tourists — remains a focal point for the village.
The Elbow Inn originally was the Munger-Moss Sandwich shop that opened in 1936. Route 66 was realigned to the north during the 1940s, but Devil’s Elbow and the restaurant continued to hang in there as a picturesque town that found favor with tourists, especially canoeists.
UPDATE: Amanda Thompson sent Route 66 News a text shortly after this story was published. Here it is, in part:
I am the eldest granddaughter of Jug and Carol Thompson and am leading this family effort to rehabilitate the inn. I would like to mention that my grandparents have both passed on. Our family did financially contribute to the repairs after the flood, one of those contributions was the forgiveness of rent for more than 2 1/2 years. The lessees were frequently forgiven rent prior to the flood. The structure was not gutted and rebuilt. My great Grandfather Paul Thompson purchased the inn, in 1949 and it was called The Elbow Inn at the time. We do strive to restore it back to the way it looked then.
I’m going to post the full statements from the Elbow Inn and its owners after the jump.
The full statement from the Elbow Inn operators:
In 2006, The Elbow Inn Business was leased from Jug and Carol Thompson. From the very first day the doors opened, the Elbow began establishing friendships & relationships. Some that will last a lifetime. We would like to tell you that we love and appreciate all of you as well as your loyalty and support over the years. We will forever be grateful to have shared and experienced so many great memories with all of you within these walls.
We have had the honor of hosting some of the most important moments of your lives such as wakes, engagements, weddings, baby showers, birthday’s, holidays, promotions , retirements and much more. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your special days.
We are forever grateful for each and every one of our customers. To include, but not limited to, our military, biker community, tourists, out of towners, hunters, clubs and the local community. We’ve had some of the most amazing people walk through these doors and created some of the best relationships. So much to look back on and laugh & cry about. Thank you for allowing us to take so many wonderful memories away with us.
We have prided ourselves on trying our best to make everyone who walks through the doors feel welcomed and comfortable. So many of you have made us your home away from home and we are honored to have held that title. “The Misfits”
As much as it hurts our hearts to say this we regretfully have to inform you that the Thompson Family has decided that they would like to take the place in a different direction and have given us notice. Due to these unfortunate circumstances we have closed this location.
We thank all of you who have been and will remain our Elbow Family. We have been blessed with the best extended family anyone could ask for.
We will remain “Elbow Strong”.
We sincerely love and appreciate all of you.
– Your Elbow Family
The post by Jax Welborn via the Thompson family:
After reading about the closure of the Elbow Inn in Devils Elbow, Missouri, I messaged members of the Thompson (owners of the property) family to seek more information.
Here is what I know:
The Elbow Inn will be reopened and the community that loves it will be welcomed. We are trying to restore it further and keep it true to the Munger Moss Sandwich Shop and Elbow Inn Route 66 history. We are trying to do what we believe will sustain the elbow in for generations to come!
There have been rumors of a winery. This will NOT be happening.
Instead here are the plans, “the Elbow Inn will always embrace the history and be a part of the story of Route 66. And it will always be a bar. It’s just going to need a facelift and rehabilitation. The area will also be kept clean to preserve the beauty of the area.”
We would love to see it looking more like it did in this picture from 1958.
(Image of the Elbow Inn in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri, in 2012 by JymPoiranges via Flickr; a 1958 image of the Elbow Inn via Jax Welborn and Tommy Thompson via Facebook)