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Route 66′s historic U-Drop Inn reopens diner after a quarter century

Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 6:28 AM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Route 66′s historic U-Drop Inn in Shamrock is set to open its diner for the first time in over a quarter of a century.

The building was built in 1936, and the diner was visited by millions of Route 66 motorists, including Elvis Presley as he drove from Memphis to Hollywood.

As international boarders reopen and travel down Route 66 is expected to increase, the city plans to open the U-Drop Inn Cafe by late July.

“Route 66 is basically our heart and soul” said Crystal Hermesmeyer, director of Shamrock Economic Development and Shamrock Chamber of Commerce. “We needed something to fill a void, we ended one more thing that would bring people in and help Shamrock and our area.”

Hermesmeyer believes the diner experience will bring more foot traffic to surrounding shamrock businesses and hotels.

“This is more about the experience, its not a grab and go,” said said. “It’s something people can come in, sit down, [and] have a wonderful experience. By helping bring in more tourism, it’s going to help all businesses around Shamrock [and] give something for people to do after hours.”

The chamber renovated the U-Drop Inn building after receiving a grant from the National Historic Registry in 2003, but the diner portion never reopened.

“We’ve had a lot of people approach us and ask what we’re going to do the diner portion,” explained Hermesmeyer. “The U-Drop Inn is one of the most iconic pieces on I-40.”

To fulfill the project, the city approached longtime Shamrock resident, Osbadlo De Leon, whose family owns one of the most successful restaurants in town, El Sombrero.

Although De Leon is upgrading kitchen equipment, he intends to keep all original architecture and seating.

“I want people to step back in time when they walk in here,” he explained. “I think people really miss, nostalgia and Americana....I think that would be a good thing for people to experience. Both the town and travelers.”

He and the city are working together to give visitors a true Route 66 experience.

“It’s important to keep this way of life and this circa, the 1940′s and 1950′s time, kind of going on,” said Hermesmeyer. “It brings people back to a simpler way of life, brings them a lot of good memories and reminds them of their childhood.”

De Leon is currently moving in equipment and finalizing a menu.

“Right now we’re trying to get recipes together. I want to go diner style, nostalgia, with sandwiches, sundaes, banana splits, milkshakes,” explained De Leon.

Currently, over 20,000 Route 66 tourists stop at the site every year.

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