Owners of the Covered Wagon Cafe Russ and Missy Wilbur pose in front of the freshly painted cafe entrance.

Murdo welcomes The Covered Wagon Cafe

We would not be able to do this without the support of the community, our exceptional staff and Odette Avila, our amazing manager."
Meet Russ and Missy Wilbur, the faces and inspiration behind the newly opened “Covered Wagon Cafe” in Murdo.
The Wilburs are originally from Bloomington, Minn., where they grew up across the street from each other, became high school sweethearts and were married on September 1, 1979. Russ attended the University of Minnesota for one year where he majored in business management. His profession kicked off as a Burger King manager where he worked at several locations and later began working management in big box retail. Missy has worked as an overnight manager for Target and has also taken care of the elderly as a nurse’s assistant. The Wilburs were transferred to Murdo to manage the Pilot Travel Center in June of 2013 and have lived here since. 
Russ and Missy both shared that they love living in the Jones County community. The kind people make it feel like home, the quietness of the town is peaceful and the fact that you never see a squirrel is nice too. 
When the Wilburs first heard the news that “The Diner” in Murdo was going up for sale they were very interested in the opportunity. Missy shared, “We thought to ourselves that we couldn’t do it, but we dreamed that we could and now here we are.” The transition was met with knowledge as Russell has worked in the restaurant industry for 30+ years.
When asked what inspired the couple to become business owners Russ was quick to share. “We essentially wanted a purpose, something to drive for and something to build up. Owning your own business gives a more flexible time schedule to enjoy family time and to prepare for retirement.”
Surrounded by the Pioneer Country Mart and the Pioneer Auto Show, the Wilburs shared that the cafe was originally going to be named the “Pioneer Cafe” to follow the theme. But after the name was deemed unvailable, the two began brainstorming plan b. Missy shared that she called Russ one afternoon to share the name idea “The Covered Wagon Cafe” and it was like an “AHA!” moment. Neither of them could get this name out of their heads.
The covered wagon is not only a token or historical figure of the midwest but also an evolution. The cafe name stands as a representation of how the covered wagon has evolved into vehicles and eventually the modern semi truck. The Wilburs hope to provide a place for semi truck drivers to stop and eat while travelling through the Pilot Truck Stop in Murdo. When you visit the Covered Wagon Cafe, ask about the mural painted by local artist Lucas Campbell exhibiting the evolution of the covered wagon into modern goods transportation.
When asked about goals set for the restaurant the Wilburs shared their heart for the business. “We want the Covered Wagon Cafe to be a gathering place for the community. We want to provide a year round family-friendly place for people to enjoy good food in a clean environment with quick and friendly service. We want to be active in the community providing support and also offering jobs to local people.”
The cafe has recently undergone an interior makeover with updates including new tables, menus and additional outdoor seating. The menu now offers appetizers, a large children’s menu, pasta, glasses of wine, wine coolers and a year round ice cream shoppe. Stop in today and try the hot item on the menu: Half or full rack of ribs served with your choice of potato, vegetables, a bread stick and your choice of soup or salad.
“We would not be able to do this without the support of the community, our exceptional staff and Odette Avila, our amazing manager. We are also deeply grateful to the Geisler family for their support and encouragement in helping us  start this new adventure in our lives. Please know that all suggestions are welcome. We don’t want anybody to go away with a bad taste in their mouth. We desire to please and would love to hear from you!” -Russ and Missy 

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
E Mail: ads@pioneer-review.com

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