With the news of longtime Springfield music store, CD Warehouse, we got to thinking about the other closed businesses in town that we miss. There are so many great Springfield businesses that were important to the people who live here, just like CD Warehouse was to lots of music lovers in town. It’s been a fun trip down memory lane to recall the places we used to hang out, shop, do business and enjoy in the Queen City. Here are 50 businesses we really miss. Please let us know which business you miss most in the comments on Facebook!
Note: A huge shoutout to the folks in the Love My Ozarks Facebook group for providing so many great ideas for this article!
Red’s was a staple of Route 66 for many years. It’s also credited as being the first drive-through restaurant in the United States. It was a little before our time as a company, but we still wish it were still around! It looked so cool and we’ve heard the food was great.
In 2014, Dillon’s announced the closing of all of its Springfield stores. The grocery chain was a long time provider of foodstuffs to Springfield residents. Most of the Dillon’s location were purchased by Price Cutter after the closing.
This night club was the home to many a honky tonks throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century as well. Lots of big name performers came through town to play at this club. It closed its doors for good in 2007, but people associated with the club have opened a new country-themed spot called Club Rodeo on Bennett.
Merle’s Hot Dog Emporium was a favorite spot of downtowners for many years. It was located on Walnut Street between the Mudlounge and what is now the Hotel Vandivort. Merle’s was known for its speedy and friendly service and its tasty hotdogs and hamburgers.
From 1998 to 2003, the Ozark Mountain Ducks played in the Central Baseball league from their stadium in Ozark, Price Cutter Park. The Central Baseball league shut down in 2005, but the Ducks left in 2003 to join the Frontier League. Once the Springfield Cardinals came to town the next year, the team folded.
This magazine/radio/podcast/website was a great celebration of Springfield’s culture for a five year stretch, ending in 2014. It was created by Springfield News-Leader alum and current Des Moines Register reporter Allen Vaughan and Springfield Arts Council’s Brett Johnston. The magazine covered everything from music to fashion to sports and tons of other topics. It was a really fun and creative endeavor, but the founders have passed the torch to the rest of Springfield.
One of Springfield’s favorite spots for breakfast for many, many years, Aunt Martha’s Pancake House was known for its fantastic pancakes and for being a favorite spot of country music legend Willy Nelson. It closed in 2015 after more than 55 years in operation in Springfield.
This Midwest Pizza chain had a string of stores in the state that were owned by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Over the years, Shakey’s were all turned into Stogies for a brief period and then disappeared entirely. There are still a lot of locations in Southern California in the Long Beach/Los Angeles area. So if you’re ever out west, you can have a nostalgic meal!
Trolley’s Park Central Pub and Grill was a hot spot in the early 2000s. It was perhaps best known for its connection to Bachelor star Aaron Buerge. Buerge owned the restaurant, which opened in 2003. The restaurant is also known for the loft above it, where the Bachelor star reportedly lived during its hey day.
This was a local department store for 88 years in Springfield that closed in 2010. It was known for its discount apparel and other goods. Due to the growing competition with internet sales and the prominence of the Battlefield Mall, Busy Bee closed seven years ago.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a photo of this Willard restaurant. Wimpy’s was a favorite of Willard residents for many years near the Cotner’s Corner General Store. It had a robust breakfast menu and was known for it’s cheeseburgers of course!
Mr. Quick’s hamburgers was a staple of Springfield cuisine on West Bypass and Chestnut. The restaurant had great deals like 6 hamburgers for $1! Wish they were still around!
The Queen City Drive-In was open for eight years in the 1970s and 1980s. It had two screens and room enough for 800 cars!
For more than 50 years, Surplus City sold military style equipment and other survival goods in Springfield. It was a favorite spot for military enthusiasts and preppers alike. It unfortunately closed in 2016.
One Murney agent said Hamby’s had the best fried chicken and the best rolls in town. It also had one of the most prolific servers in Springfield history, as documented by Ozarks Alive right here.
Swensen’s is a global chain of ice cream stores that had a location on Fremont and Sunshine in the Southern Hills Shopping Center during the 1980s. The chain still has many stores around the country and overseas, so you can still go where happiness never melts! Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a photo of the Springfield store.
Photo by Branson Ticket and Travel
Rosati’s was a Chicago Deep-Dish pizza restaurant in Springfield up until a few years ago. It was located just to the west of Buffalo Wild Wings. The pizza was like a giant cake of saucy, cheesy goodness. So good.
The actor who played Hoss on Bonanza started the steak house chain in 1963 to capitalize on the TV show’s success. The Springfield location was operated by John Royal and had its hey day in the 1980s. We were unable to find a good image. If you have one, send it over! We’ll put it up!
Women’s Clothing store on the square that was the go to place for fashion in Springfield in the 1950s and 1960s.
This was a Big Apple-inspired pizza place with multiple locations in the early aughts. They sold pizza by the slice and delivered to lots of pizza lovers in the Queen City. This was the kind of pizza you had to fold to eat. It was great stuff. Fear not, though. You can still get awesome NY style pizza at Big Slice on Sunshine and at Jax and Gabe’s on Republic Road.
Heer’s has a special place in Springfield’s history. The original store was destroyed in a fire in 1913 and two years later, Francis X. Heer opened the Park Central Square location. The first day more than 21,000 people visited the store. Heer’s success lasted well into the 20th century, maintaining it’s momentum through the 1970s and 1980s until filing for bankruptcy in 1990. By 1995, the store was closed for good, but has since been refurbished into luxury apartments in Downtown Springfield.
Duck’s was a hot spot for night life in the 1970s. It was also a dance club at one time, but was known for it’s outdoor beer garden.
Rubenstein’s started out in 1924 in Springfield, offering clothing to locals at its location on College and Campbell. In 1948, Rubenstein’s underwent a major makeover, making it one of the cutting edge stores in the area. It was the place to find local fashion for many years before eventually closing in 1985.
Service Merchandise was a chain of retail stores, dating back to 1934. The Springfield store was located right next to the Battlefield Mall’s current location and it opened in 1974. The store was a great spot to pick up jewelry, toys, sporting goods and much more!
Oh, the giant cup. We miss this iconic building’s entrance. It was taken down in 2015 because the new tenant didn’t have an association with cups. It started as Lilly Tulip in 1954 and went on to become Solo fifty years later. Here’s a great story on the history of the cup from the Springfield News-Leader.
Local businessman TJ Loudis started TJ Sales in 1978 when he was in college. The businesss sold t-shirts and other apparel for 31 years in Springfield and had one of the most memorable jingles in Springfield advertising history. You’re Talkin’ T-Shirts, You’re Talkin’ T-J-Sales! It closed in 2009.
Toy-O was one of the premier places for kids to find toys in Springfield. The photo above shows the building where Toy-O eventually occupied. It also had a location where Hobby Lobby currently resides.
The Heritage Cafeteria unfortunately closed last year after many decades of serving meals to Springfield residents. It was originally located on Glenstone and Meadowmere in the lower photo above. The building was owned by Murney broker Harry Chalfant and his wife Nancy! It then moved to it’s familiar location on Battlefield and Fremont where it stayed for many years. The most recent owners are now working on a cookbook of the dishes that were served in the restaurant, so keep an eye out for that in the future!
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, roller skating was one of the most popular leisure activities in the area. There were several different venues to lace up and skate, but none more popular than Skateport. Olympic ice skater Emily Scott credit Skateport as the place where she honed her skills to eventually lead her to compete for the stars and stripes on an international stage. Check out her story in this piece by Kansas City news station KSHB.
News-Leader reporter Greg Holman recently broke the news that CD Warehouse would be closing its doors. This place was a cornerstone of youth for Generation X. It’s where they explored their musical tastes and found the soundtrack of their younger years. We will certainly miss having this store in town.