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Railside Highway Diner opens in Gibbon with special delivery available

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GIBBON — Trevor Reeder knew he wanted to bring a restaurant to Gibbon, but he wanted to find the right person to run the business.

Reeder is the owner of Lucky Duck Bar and Lounge in Gibbon, with nearly 18 years of experience working in the industry. He has worked with food in the past, but it wasn’t his passion.

Railside Highway Diner

The interior theme of the Railside Highway Diner in Gibbon features trains, automobiles and the history of the community.

“I love the bar part, and so that’s why when I opened the Lucky Duck I didn’t do any food. But I thought there was a need in town here for food, and I also knew that a restaurant here would complement the bar and the bar will complement the restaurant. So it’s like I need to find somebody that that’s their thing,” Reeder explained.

Reeder was scrolling through Facebook when he saw he had mutual friends with Todd Heater, who had attended the Culinary Institute of Arts in Colorado before diving into the restaurant industry. He has cooked at Lucky Strike in Denver, Buffalo Point Steakhouse in Sidney, Kearney Country Club, Sozo, Angus Burgers and Shakes, and Joy’s Table.

Reeder reached out to Heater last July about his desire to open a restaurant in Gibbon. As the two began talking about their ideas, they realized they shared a vision for the diner.

“We’ve been pretty much like two peas in a pod on almost everything,” Heater said.

With Heater on board as the general manager, they started working with the building’s owner, Kyle Bond, to make it a reality. The trio — along with Kyle’s dad, Dwight, and Reeder’s parents, Brian and Jo — poured countless hours into turning the blank space into a restaurant.

The Bond family, car lovers, but they gave Reeder the freedom to do whatever he liked with the space.

Railside Highway Diner

This season’s dessert feature at Railside Highway Diner is the molten chocolate s’mores cake. The Gibbon diner serves burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers and a variety of entrees.

“The highway is right here. The railroad tracks are right here. So let’s go with trains and cars and the highway and the railroad because that’s what made all these little towns here,” Reeder said.

Black and white photographs of trains cover the walls, as well as automobile memorabilia and historic photographs of Gibbon. Each booth’s table top was made by Kyle and is unique with pictures commemorating Gibbon’s history and other local pieces beneath a clear surface.

The diner’s name, Railside Highway Diner, fits right in with the theme. As it started coming together, Reeder and Heater hoped to have a soft opening in October. But they were hit with numerous delays.

“We had some issues with getting equipment and furniture. Everything was delayed,” Reeder said. “Plumbers, electricians, all those kinds of people, they’re backed up with things. So they were running behind schedule, sometimes weeks or months.”

Railside Highway Diner

The Railside Reuben features two toasted pieces of mild jalapeño cornbread, whiskey dill sauerkraut, pimento cheese, bistro sauce and slow-roasted certified Angus corned beef.

The diner opened May 3, and people have come from around the region to try their fare. When building the menu, Heater wanted to provide an array of burgers, sandwiches, salads and entrees that remind customers of traditional diner meals. He often adds his own twist, whether it’s the way he cooks the meat to adding a unique sauce or topping.

Heater focuses on providing fresh, high-quality meals including certified Angus beef to house-cut French fries. The Rio Grande is one of the top-selling burgers featuring cream cheese, in-house jalapeño raspberry jam, roasted jalapeño slices, cheese bites, bacon, roasted jalapeño mayonnaise and shredded lettuce.

There are plenty of options for patrons looking for traditional fare including chicken fried steaks, hot beef sandwiches and patty melts. In the future, they are considering having nightly specials with pasta, steak or prime rib. Customers can indulge their sweet tooth with cheesecake or the molten chocolate s’mores cake.

Railside Highway Diner

The Railside Highway Diner’s featured burger for June is the Lunch Box burger. The burger has cookie butter, raspberry jalapeño jam, bacon and melted American cheese.

Along with quality, Reeder and Heater want to make sure customers are served quickly. Servers use a hand-held device to take customers’ orders, and customers’ get their own drinks.

“That’ll free up time for the servers to be able to get to more people and pay more attention to the customers’ needs,” explained Reeder.

Online ordering will be available soon through the Toast app. If people are enjoying a drink at the Lucky Duck next door, they can order food at Railside Highway and a server will bring their meal straight to them.

The diner has been busy since day one, Heater said. Having similar ideas has helped Reeder and Heater work well as a team.

“Part of the success here is first, having the right people here. Second, is quality of food and service. And third, is being open to new ideas and being flexible,” Reeder said. “If you get stuck in a rut of the past or a certain way when it needs to be changed — and some ways or old ideas are great still — but we’re not afraid to look at new ideas, and that makes this work.”

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