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Pappy’s Place gains new owners

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A longtime Grant Beach neighborhood restaurant and bar is under new ownership.

Wayne and Susan Rader made a $75,000 winning bid on Friday for Pappy’s Place, 943 N. Main St., at an auction held at the restaurant. The husband and wife expect to officially take possession around Jan. 1 of the business that has been in operation for over 90 years. 

Owners Scott and Debra Keese announced in April they wanted to retire and listed Pappy’s Place for sale. Scott Keese has owned the business for two different stints: the first for nine years beginning in 1996 and again after repurchasing it in 2010.

The Raders, who also own Rader Manor, a bed-and-breakfast operation at 924 N. Main St., are set to make their first foray into the restaurant industry. Wayne Rader said he saw owning Pappy’s Place as an opportunity “to keep a historic icon here in Springfield.”

“We want to keep it as Pappy’s,” he said, noting a desire to maintain menu and staff. “If I bought it, it was going to stay Pappy’s.”

The building for Pappy’s Place, known for its barbecue food, opened in 1926 as George Bills’ Cafe, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. The cafe was issued Springfield’s first liquor-by-the-drink license following the repeal of prohibition in 1933, and it took on the Pappy’s name in 1971, after Paul and Dorothy Ankrom purchased the business. Paul Ankrom, one of the original “O’Reilly 13” to help start the auto parts company, had a stepdaughter who called him Pappy.

Rader said he intends on adding catering to the business and occasional menu specials, but has no immediate plans on making investments for renovations or extensive changes.

“Right now, we’re just focused on Pappy’s and learning the business and keeping that going,” he said, noting he and his wife’s son and daughter and their significant others would be helping with the venture.

“This is a family project for us, so we’re all going to take turns to keep this business endeavor going,” Rader added. “We’re really going to make it something that makes people come to Springfield.”

Rader, who has visited Pappy’s Place many times as a customer, said his family will get trained by Scott Keese over the coming weeks on restaurant operations and learning the recipes.

While a restaurant operation may be new, business ventures are not for Rader, who also owns Rader Properties and is the former owner of The Window Dudes LLC installation service. At Rader Manor, which opened in March 2018, the couple invested approximately $750,000 to renovate a more than 130-year-old, 14,500-square-foot house, he said.

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