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Trio of additions to Railside: Arrivals include new coffee shop and Big Red Treats

Trio of additions to Railside: Arrivals include new coffee shop and Big Red Treats


Even in the midst of a pandemic, new places set up shop in downtown Grand Island.

Here’s a look at three that have opened since the coronavirus arrived.

Underground Cafe

The Underground Cafe coffee shop opened Jan. 2 at 309 W. Third St.

The business is between the Happy Brush and A Higher Plane, across the street from the Grand Theatre.

The Underground Cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The owner is Jose Rendon, who loves coffee.

On the menu are lattes, specialty coffees, iced and blended drinks, lemonade and other nonalcoholic beverages.

An inventive concoction is the cake shake. Pieces of chocolate or vanilla cake are found inside the drink.

One of the baked goods is fill-up bread, which is filled with cream cheese, jalapenos and ham.

The menu also includes doughnut sandwiches, lettuce tacos, croissant waffle sandwiches, cheesecake, churros, waffles, pan dulce and concha rellena.

Rendon plans a special light show, from inside the restaurant, Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 9 p.m.

The phone number is 308-675-2744.

Big Red Treats

Big Red Treats has moved from Northwest Crossing to a new Railside location, in the former Harmony Building at 224 W. Third St.

Owner Dana Wright said he and his wife, Julie, are proponents of downtown development.

They saw a move to Railside as “a great opportunity to bring some exciting foot traffic” and added life to the area.

Right now, Big Red Treats occupies only the front of the building. But after renovation, it will take up the entire first floor. The shop will include a seating area.

Todd and Angela King opened Big Red Treats in 2016.

The Wrights bought the shop at the beginning of 2020. They also own another downtown business, the Tally Creative marketing agency.

Right now, Big Red Treats sells only gourmet popcorn. Flavors include cheddar, white cheddar, cinnamon and sugar, hot cocoa, cowboy ranch, kettle corn, sea salt and “movie night butter.”

When the weather warms up, frozen yogurt and ice cream will be added to the lineup. The cold treats will include frozen custard, gelato and Italian ice.

Also on the menu will be lunch options and fountain sodas.

Wright envisions a “cool downtown sort of place.” The location is adjacent to Railway Plaza, which hosts summertime concerts.

Grand Island Tourism

On April 1, Grand Island Tourism moved into 201 W. Third St., at the corner of West Third and Locust streets.

For more than a decade, the convention and visitor bureau operated at 2424 S. Locust.

Brad Mellema, executive director of Grand Island Tourism, says he loves the new location.

“And it’s only going to get better when we get summertime activities — concerts, parades, all those kind of things — back again,” Mellema said.

Grand Island Tourism wants “to be a welcome mat for this community. We think this provides a high level of visibility for the hospitality community in Grand Island,” he said.

Not only is the corner location quite visible, but it also provides a nice perch from which to view the downtown.

“We look out the window and see the streetscape of Grand Island. This is what we’re selling. Because we look at downtown as a destination as much as Fonner Park or the cranes or Stuhr Museum are destinations. We think downtown is certainly rising to that level these days,” Mellema said.

The new location puts the tourism office within easy walking distance of the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce, Grand Island Economic Development Corp. and downtown meetings, he said.

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As I sit here in my home on a brutally frigid Sunday morning listening to the KNVL Polka Show, I am transported back to another place and time. My mind wanders back to the countless Whoopi John requests that we would enjoy on our road trip to see one of our all-time favorite priests, Father James Murphy. We were on our way up to Mass in Ericson where he was always waiting to give us a big hug and a smile.

Father Murphy died Jan. 21 at the age of 94.

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