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Denton Community
Historical Society

Tales & Trails



By Mary Anne Kraus

I’d like to reminisce about the days at Parker’s Steak House. How I miss the old building that sat on Lancaster Street. I worked at the Steak House over 15 years. All my family worked there too. Carl Parker’s sister, Helen, trained me to do waitress work. I remember the gold uniforms. No slacks, only dresses could be worn. We could not chew gum and always had to bring water to each table, unlike some restaurants where you had to ask for water. The steaks were fabulous. The sirloin for two hung over the edge of the huge platter they were served on and the meat was ever so tasty. I remember when I started working there the Shrimp cocktails were one dollar. Oh! Those onion rings. They were like doughnuts. Every one ordered them to eat before the meal or to eat along with drinks. 

I first met Delia Amen and Carl Parker in 1961 or 1962. We went to the part of the Steak House that was “Carl’s Club”. In the Club you could drink “hard liquor” as they called it in those days. We had our oldest daughter with us and she was fussy and crying so Delia held her and walked with her so we could enjoy ourselves.

My husband, Leon, our oldest daughter and myself would some times care for the exotic birds that Carl had. He asked us to do this when he was out of town. There were emus, beautiful golden pheasants and other exotic birds.

Football Saturday night when Nebraska played in Lincoln, the steak house was packed. Everyone wanted to start the meal with an order of onion rings. We really had to work hard. Everyone stuffed themselves with steak, chicken, shrimp or maybe “Seafood Platter”. The seafood platter consisted of a fish filet, shrimp, oysters and scallops. It came with your choice of potatoes, (french-fries, hash browns, or baked). The salad and roll and butter were also included. It was oh so good.

Carl always sat in the last booth along the wall near the kitchen door where the waitresses or waiter (as they were called in those days) came in and out. Many customers would stop to chat with Carl as they went to their seats. Every once in a while a customer would sit down to chat. Carl loved to visit with people. 

Many Nebraska football players came out to the restaurant and became good friends. Carl was a big football fan but never had time to go to the games. Lots of famous people came out to eat at the there. Governor Exon was a regular customer. One evening a big black limousine pulled up in front of the steak house and out stepped Governor Kerrey and Debra Winger, the actress. Wow! Everyone was so excited.

The movie “Oh Pioneer” was filmed in and around Denton and the crew making the movie came in for lunch. It too was very exciting.

One morning when I came to work I found that the place had been broken into. I was pretty scared because I didn’t know if anyone was inside waiting. It all turned out OK. No one was there. The sheriff came to check things out.

Many colorful local characters came to Parkers every day and every night. One I can recall was married and would come down and drink a lot. The wife would call and the bartender would say, “No, he says he’s not here”. A short while later, his wife would come and take him home so he wouldn’t drive. Another would tell the tallest tales about what he did and what he had. It just went on and on. Another fellow that worked for the railroad, he was a very gentle kind man. He enjoyed “visiting”. He would say, “It ain’t the whistle that pulls the train”.

Sometimes grown ups and children would steal tips off the tables before the waitress could get back to clean up the table. It didn’t happen often. Customers would tell waitresses what had happened.

Many cooks were colorful characters, too. Some of the cooks stayed a long, long time but others just worked a while and left, never to be seen again. 

I met many nice people over the years and made many friends and acquaintances while working there.

Parker’s Steak House was a legend during it’s time. Many people from the Lincoln Air Base came out to Denton to eat and enjoy themselves. People from all over the world came to Denton to eat at the famous Parker’s Steak House.

Copyright  2011
Webmaster - Kathie Harrison
Denton Community Historical Society of Nebraska