Nebraska is a state where you’ll find big personalities with big stories. Everyone knows of that one local character who seems larger than life. In Paxton, that character was Rosser “Ole” Herstedt. This athlete and avid hunter started one of Nebraska’s most famous and most unusual restaurants – a restaurant that has been going strong for well over 80 years now.
Ole's has been in operation since 12:01 am on August 9. 1933. The specific time is important to note because it was exactly one minute after the end of Prohibition. With its long history, Ole's is one of the oldest continually operating restaurants in the state.
The large walnut bar was a part of Ole's before there was an Ole's. Legend has it that Ole, a great baseball player, pitched a game with friends in Colorado. The friends promised him $50 if they won the game, but when they won, no one had the money. They gave Ole the beautiful walnut wood bar instead. He used it and a building his parents owned in Paxton - along with some very advantageous timing - to open his bar exactly as Prohibition ended.
Ole was also an avid hunter, and during hunting season the bar was crowded with like-minded men sharing stories of their latest hunts. A few years after opening the bar, Ole hung a mounted white tail buck that he'd bagged on his own hunting trip. That one trophy began the development of this fascinating place's personality.
Ole spent more than 30 years traveling the world, hunting and bringing home his trophies. From a baboon in Africa to a red fox in England to a polar bear in Russia, Ole bagged a huge variety of trophies to adorn the walls of his establishment.
Soon, people started to talk about this unusual spot and Ole's became something of a tourist attraction. Being situated not far from I-80 was a big benefit that allowed tourists and travelers to drop in on their way to other places. But plenty of people made Ole's their primary destination, too.
Although Ole's bar was a fascinating and unusual place, it certainly wasn't a family establishment. That aspect didn't come about until the late '80s when Ole retired. A local man bought the business and turned it into a steakhouse where parents could come with their children.
The bar became a restaurant serving local beef and home-cooked meals. Tim Holzfaster, the new owner, purchased two adjoining businesses and opened up the walls between them, greatly expanding the area in Ole's. And the trophies that had attracted hunters to the bar continued to attract curious patrons to the restaurant.
Today, more than 200 stuffed animal trophies adorn the walls.
Ole's receives high marks for its food and service, and visitors continue to be fascinated by the unique decor.
Ole's is a uniquely Nebraskan establishment - where else would a restaurant full of stuffed animal trophies become such a beloved institution? This is definitely not the place for vegetarians or those who might be offended by the sight of hundreds of stuffed big game heads all over the walls.
Ole's is open every day of the year except Christmas. You can stop in at I-80 Exit 145; 123 N Oak St, Paxton, NE, 69155.