Wayne and Susan Rader, husband/wife and co-owners of Springfield institution Pappy’s Place, are expanding into an adjacent building to allow for year round live music. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

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Editor’s Note: In a Facebook post on Jan. 19, 2023, it was announced that Pappy’s Place co-owner Wayne Rader had died. It will remain closed until Jan. 24.

The corner of Main Avenue and Nichols Street in the Grant Beach neighborhood will soon be home to Springfield’s newest English pub and indoor music venue.

Susan and Wayne Rader, the owners of Pappy’s Place BBQ restaurant, purchased the building adjacent to the historic restaurant, with plans to grow the business and be able to offer live music all year round.

Pappy’s English Pub will be the newest addition to the Rader’s cluster of buildings up and down Main Street, dubbed “Raderville” by Mayor Ken McClure, according to Wayne. 

With it, they hope to fill a hole left by the closing of Springfield Brewing Company’s live music venue, The Cellar, and strengthen Pappy’s legacy in north Springfield. 

Wayne and Susan Rader. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

With sights set on a spring grand opening, plenty of work to be done

The new building, which is only separated from Pappy’s by a patio, will undergo a facelift from its current state. 

With peeling paint, a boarded-up window and exposed drywall, the Rader’s will have their hands full between keeping Pappy’s running and renovations as they aim for an April 1 grand opening.

Currently, the building is used as storage for antiques for the previous owner, who takes part in swap meets and antique shows. In previous lives, the building was a space for a grocery store, a shoe store, a record store, a dry cleaner and a laundromat, according to Wayne.

Wayne and Susan Rader say the building’s tin ceiling is one of its more outstanding features. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

In order to better connect the new building to Pappy’s, they plan on installing a 16-foot glass “garage” door, and putting in a pathway for guests to travel between the restaurant and the pub without having to go outside.

While it will share space and the same menu offerings as Pappy’s, the expansion will take on a new theme, that of a British pub.

“I’ve got everybody lined up to do everything,” Wayne said. “I’m ordering stuff from England, which takes two months to get…it’s going to be super cool.”

Pappy’s Place co-owner Wayne Rader talks about plans to expand the business by opening “Pappy’s Pub” in an adjacent building. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

The patio between the two buildings has long served as an outdoor music venue to Pappy’s, and will continue to when weather permits. 

Pappy’s building occupancy is only 39, with five tables and nine bar stools. Their patio, on a busy night, can hold anywhere from 80 to 100 people. Due to it being outdoors, it severely limits the number of customers they can serve during the winter months and during rainy weather. 

With Pappy’s English Pub, they will be able to offer an indoor music venue and overflow space that could not only help them during cold temperatures and bad weather, but help grow the business year-round.

How it all started: ‘We didn’t want to change Pappy’s, we wanted to enhance Pappy’s

Pappy’s English Pub will be another chapter in the storied history of Pappy’s Place, which is approaching its 100-year anniversary as a restaurant in 2026. 

Over the course of its life, Pappy’s Place has gone by different names under different ownership, but ever since Paul and Dorothy Ankrom a.k.a. “Pappy” and “Mammy” bought the business in 1970, the name has stuck. 

An exterior sign from when the restaurant was known as “Pappy’s Cafe” now hangs in the center of the dining area/bar. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Including all of its different namesakes, Pappy’s is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurants in Springfield. They also have the longest continuously operating alcoholic drink license (Pappy’s only added liquor after the Raders’ bought it) in the city, dating back to 1934, the year after prohibition ended.

Wayne said that the History Museum on the Square requested their stovetop and oven range when — and if — they ever replace it, simply due to its age and history.

“It’s cooked millions and millions of hamburgers and pork and ham,” Wayne said.

The building itself is even older, having been constructed in 1903, according to Wayne, originally operating as a grocery store.

The age and the design of the building have posed challenges for Pappy’s in the past, but the owners have adapted to make it work.

“It was not set up to be a 2023 restaurant,” Wayne said. “It was designed for 1903. There’s no cooler spots, there’s no refrigerator spots. What you see is what you get.”

Pappy’s decor is a nod to its age, with the original Pappy’s sign hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the restaurant. The walls are decorated with antique signs from famous breweries, paintings of Pappy’s and a menu dating back to World War II that featured a T-bone steak for 65 cents.

One of the many pieces of ephemera hanging in Pappy’s Place BBQ is a World War II “Ceiling Prices” menu. Named the Main Eat Shop at the time, the menu established the maximum price that the restaurant could charge for individual items and meals. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

The ceiling is lined with dollar bills that have customers’ names written across them. Some were so old and fragile, that when they painted the ceiling, they had to brush around the bills to avoid ripping them. 

Susan and Wayne have owned the business since 2019. While the Covid-19 pandemic was an early challenge for them, business has since grown exponentially for them.

“We’ve not only tripled the business, we’ve probably went five or six times over what they used to do,” Wayne said. 

Upon taking the reins of the business, the only upgrades and additions they’ve made are buying better quality food products and adding liquor (it previously only served beer).

Donny Snow enjoys a gin martini with his dinner at the bar at Pappy’s Place BBQ. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

“We didn’t want to change Pappy’s,” Susan said. “We wanted to enhance Pappy’s.”

Just last month, Pappy’s celebrated its own unique holiday, known as Hacker Day, which takes place on Dec. 23. Jim Hacker was a longtime regular of Pappy’s, who spent time almost every day at their bar. 

“Everybody loved him, knew him,” Wayne said.

At one point, he was diagnosed with a kind of terminal cancer, and was estimated to have two weeks to live. For those two weeks, he spent his days as he always had, at Pappy’s. Hacker went on to live 13 more years.

A makeshift shrine to longtime customers Jim and Lois Hacker sits on a shelf behind the bar at Pappy’s Place BBQ. Jim sat at the bar for so many hours that their on spots in the counter that were worn away by his prosthetic arm. Pappy’s holds an event, “Hacker Day” in his honor every year. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

The past and future footprint of Pappy’s in Springfield

Any restaurant that’s been around for 97 years has fed a lot of people, and while Pappy’s continues to serve BBQ to their older clientele, many of whom are “regulars,” Wayne and Susan look toward carrying its legacy into the future.

Wayne said that, to his surprise, younger crowds frequent Pappy’s.

“I worried about [younger] people wanting to come here,” Wayne said. “They freakin’ love it, you can’t get them outta here, especially on the patio.”

On nights with live music, Wayne said that a line often stretches down Main Street.

Susan Rader poses behind the bar at Pappy’s. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Susan acknowledged that their location, nestled a few blocks north of Chestnut Expressway, initially presented a challenge for the business.

“It’s kind of a hard place because not a lot of people pass through here, not a lot of traffic,” Susan said.

But they have adapted and made themselves a destination for older regulars to college students and everyone in between.

Their proximity to the Springfield and Greene County government buildings and other nearby facilities are helpful.

Regular customer Jim Vanzandt, of Pleasant Oak, bites into a pulled pork sandwich for an early lunch. Pappy’s is a sponsor of his business’s super late model dirt race car. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

“We get doctors, we get all the judges and lawyers and city people,” Wayne said.

They’ve also benefited from the relationships they’ve built with their north Springfield neighbors, having catered for the mayor, Pipkin Middle School, Cox North and the Building Regulations offices.

After announcing their expansion into the building next door on Facebook on January 8, Pappy’s has received an outpouring of public support, accumulating hundreds of likes, comments and messages.

They have already received messages from over 100 different bands looking to play either on the patio or in the pub when it opens.

“We get some of the best bands that there is to offer,” Wayne said. 

With the expansion of Pappy’s, Susan hopes they will be able to expand their team. Right now, the restaurant is run by four people, including the owners, one server and one cook, who has worked there, off and on, for over 30 years.

James Thompson has worked in the kitchen at Pappy’s Place BBQ “off and on” for 31 years. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Pappy’s is the first restaurant the Raders’ have taken on, and they even had to close their bed and breakfast across the street because their newest endeavor had “taken off.”

Susan said that she hopes that Pappy’s is eventually able to run itself, but for now, they’re pouring themselves into it hoping to ensure Springfield’s oldest restaurant retains that title for many years to come.

Pappy’s Place is located at 943 N. Main Ave. and they are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, serving everything from ribs to reubens and chili to cheeseburgers with 10 beer taps and a full back bar.

Pappy’s Place BBQ on Main Street has been a restaurant since 1926 and has Springfield’s oldest continuous liquor license dating back to 1933. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Jack McGee

Jack McGee is the government affairs reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. He previously covered politics and business for the Daily Citizen. He’s an MSU graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and a minor political science. Reach him at jmcgee@sgfcitizen.org or (417) 837-3663. More by Jack McGee