The Big Chief Roadhouse, which sits along an old alignment of Route 66 in Wildwood, Missouri. recently celebrated its 90th anniversary.
The Lancer Feed, a newspaper created by students at Lafayette High School in Wildwood, created this video from the Sept. 14 celebration:
The restaurant’s website contains an extensive history here. The Big Chief sits at 17352 Old Manchester Road, a part of Route 66 from 1926 to 1932.
According to Jim Hinckley’s “Route 66 Encyclopedia,” the Big Chief Motel was established in 1929 as a cabin court in Pond, Missouri, on what now is Wildwood. It contained 62 cabins with attached garages and a restaurant. The entry in the book states:
The facility represented another link in the Pierce Pennant Petroleum chain of establishments built along Route 66 during this period. Similar to the relationship between the railroad and the Harvey House chain, Henry K. Pierce proposed to build full-service establishments at 125-mile intervals through the Ozarks and into Oklahoma. The Big Chief encapsulated his vision.
It closed in 1949 after a long decline when Route 66 was realigned to the south. It reopened in 1995 later as a restaurant after the cabins, gas pumps and false bell tower were removed. It’s been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2003. Several remodeling efforts of the facility have sought to maintain its historical integrity.
Here’s what the Big Chief offers now, according to its website:
Partner and Executive Chef, John Fox, delivers a menu full of freshly prepared dishes. A 9000 square foot garden has been constructed at the rear of the property to provide the freshest produce possible. Local farms are sourced for many of our meats, which are cut and smoked in house. We believe in good quality food and knowing from where your meal comes.
(Modern-day image of the Big Chief Roadhouse in Wildwood, Missouri, via Wikipedia)