Locals from central Nebraska flock to the outskirts of northern Omaha when it is time for dinner. They hunger for the deep-fried hen at the Alpine Inn, but residents understand to get here early, order a table by the window, and also wait for the online amusement to come creeping in. As dusk techniques, feral raccoons from the bordering Ponca Hills arrive and also treat on repurposed food scraps routinely tossed onto the outdoor patio. For nearly half a century, this secluded restaurant has been reusing their leftovers for the concealed animals to ensure that patrons can not just have dinner, but likewise take pleasure in a show.
Affectionately nicknamed “House of the Wild animals,” this family-owned dining establishment is a concealed gem. They do not have a web site, so I first hear about the Alpine Inn from my brother-in-law, a Nebraska native. This air of mystery attracts me to drive toward the cerulean poultry shack in the woods. When I show up, Jaimi Fay, the pleasant bartender on duty, is pouring beverages behind a poorly lit bar. She searches for and also greets me with a smile.
“Invite and also thanks for being part of our tale,” Fay claims. “Sit anywhere you such as.” I get lucky: A waiter has actually just gotten rid of a table by the huge windows, and I have a front-row seat.
Get a window seat for a close encounter with the raccoons.|Image: Julie Poise Immink
The Alpine Inn has actually been family owned and also run considering that 1973. Started by Glenn and also Flav Robey, their children and grandchildren have actually kept the dynamic operation running in recent years. Glenn, a champion stock cars and truck chauffeur, utilized to sit on the first barstool and also welcome everyone that went through the door. Racing trophies as well as pictures of his eight-ball cars and truck decorate the wall surfaces of the restaurant along with various other antiques; velour paints and different other ornaments on display screen depict troublesome raccoons glimpsing in and also out of tree trunks. The Robeys never ever had to travel far to function since they lived upstairs, in a space that currently continues to be empty in their memory.
Photographs of Glenn and also Flav Robey, who opened the Alpine Inn in 1973.|Image: Julie Elegance Immink
Right here on the periphery of Omaha, raccoons live and wander free. Omnivorous, they leave their dens in the bordering forest to hunt for a midnight snack. However, these non-domestic animals are in some cases seen as trash-digging parasites or as a product. Throughout background, raccoons have been wanted by trappers, fashionistas, and also Aboriginal people, that make use of the pelts and also fur to make apparel.
The Alpine Inn’s chicken-heavy menu attributes award-winning fried hen (made from a family members dish), liver, and gizzards. I purchase a drink as well as snacks while I await the feature performance. A tree perch outside function as a phase for the chomping nocturnal visitors. The system is eye-level with my 6-year-old, who is drinking a soft drink, wide-eyed as the fuzzy creatures arise.
I begin snapping images, and other customers take out their phones as well. They grab a few pictures and also reveal me other pictures they have actually captured throughout the years. One image consists of a nursing mother as well as her kits. In another, the patio area is so loaded with raccoons that it looks like ocean waves. I count more than 40 cosy striped tails.
Alpine Inn regulars Expense as well as Dan conversation with Jaimi and Margie.|Photo: Julie Elegance Immink
My night spent at the Alpine Inn has given the expression “having dinner with some good friends” a new meaning. After a round of pool and some excellent discussion, my goodbye is as friendly as my arrival. Fay (the Robeys’ granddaughter) thanks me for visiting and also offers me recommendations as I head out and back onto the winding course that led me right here.
“Drive safe as well as look out for wild animals when driving,” she says.
Velour raccoon paint at the Alpine Inn.|Picture: Julie Elegance Immink
If you go
The Alpine Inn is open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. till 11 p.m.