by Don Bingham
There are not many food establishments available that still offer a touch of local charm and “homegrown” atmosphere like the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Greenbrier — “Home of Larry’s Bigger Burger.”
It’s also home of the owner and operator, Larry Nelson, affectionately known as “Wagon Wheel Larry,” and his wife Bonnie.
The loyal customers come for the down-home cooking and much more. “Wagon Wheel Larry” passes out quarters to the children, and customers have been known to begin parking in the lot before the 5:30 a.m. opening, and continue until closing. All are there for food and fellowship, and are there to catch up on the community happenings.
Larry’s daughters, Trish Nelson and Sissy Ruple, manage to keep things moving and on the production schedule. That schedule requires 30 employees, seven days a week, and closing is only on holidays and when the “first sign of a snowflake” falls on Highway 65.”
Among the customer favorites are the fried mushrooms, chocolate gravy, homemade breads for the sandwiches and toast, catfish, homemade onion rings, candied carrots, country ham, cornbread, coconut pie, cherry pie, cheesecakes and “Larry’s Bigger Burger.” The menu board offers a daily choice of at least seven vegetables along with daily special entrees.
The Wagon Wheel Restaurant has been in operation for 18 years, with Larry steering the restaurant since 1991. Besides the local constituency, there is the traffic to and from Branson, Mo., with tourism a big factor in the daily crowds.
On a local level, Larry has fed breakfast to the entire boys and girls basketball teams of Greenbrier — on their way to the championship games in Pine Bluff. He also takes one day a year, usually the first Saturday in December, to offer his customers a free “deer chili supper” as a thank-you for their continued support.
You’ll not only dine as Larry’s guest, but you can dance to a live band, and hear down-home singing if you stay around.
The prices are very reasonable and the food is wonderful. I am going to return for the northern beans and turnip greens.