I'm humbled by the response for little ole' Wagon Ho.
We decided to share the story with the "If you grew up in Bradenton, FL, you remember" Facebook group, and it resulted in 145 likes from the group, another 80 Recommends on the site and a deluge of Facebook comments that provided some insight on the restaurant. The column was the second most-read story on Bradenton.com Wednesday, too.
I'm also surprised how much people can go back and forth over whether the restaurant turned into an Arby's, and the consensus appears to be no.
Here's one gem that shed some light via Facebook from a former Wagon Ho employee:
Joyce Alderman Fulghum I was one of the first employees when WAGON HO opened. the big guy on top was Big Paul. I was there from start to finish. It was never arbys ...The dodge place took over the lot with the wagon then tore it down when remodeled, it was my understanding Paul was sold or donated to someone.A letter via email from Pastor Bill Straitwell gave a fascinating look at the construction of Wagon Ho, plus an inspiration to find of photo of Kenny Rogers Roasters, which blows my mind that there was one in Bradenton. I don't know if I've ever seen one in person. My exposure to the restaurant was limited to an episode of Seinfeld.
Here's Pastor Bill on the Wagon:
My wife and I have lived in the Bradenton area for the past 23 years, and our first house in the area was in Bayshore Gardens, which is not too far from the old Wagon Ho. While we have never been inside the building, I can speculate what the inside looked like. The Conestoga portion of the building was built by Seaman Corp. located on Whitfield Ave. I worked as a supervisor there when I first moved into the area. Seaman is no longer there, but their headquarters in Wooster, Ohio. Seaman built large buildings shaped somewhat like the Wagon Ho, but considerably larger in size. Many of the buildings were built for the military at the start of the Gulf War. Hopefully I have added some insight into your fine article. (Did you know that across the street was a Kenny Rogers Roasters Restaurant, which featured roasted and delicious chicken?) I believe it was roughly by the present day Hooter’s. Blessings, Pastor Bill Straitwell