Missouri News

Northeast Missouri's 18 Wheeler Restaurant poised for a comeback

The restaurant, formerly known as the 18 Wheeler, sits empty in Taylor, Mo., on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. The restaurant will be re-opening under new management in December. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
Katelyn Metzger 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 17, 2019 12:01 am

TAYLOR, Mo. -- A popular Northeast Missouri restaurant that went out of business in March is getting a new lease on life.

The 18 Wheeler Restaurant near Taylor will reopen under new management the first week in December as the 18-Wheeler Family Restaurant.

The restaurant is at the intersection of U.S. 61/Mo. 6 in a heavily used truck stop that's been attracting travelers for years.

Marsha Wilcoxen of Macomb, Ill., was familiar with the restaurant and saw lots of potential at that location.

So she decided to step in and assume management of the eatery.

"It's just something that I've always wanted to do," she said. "It's been my dream to own my own place, so I thought I would take a chance."

Wilcoxen said she's planning to make some changes that she hopes the restaurant's loyal customers will appreciate.

"It's going to be a whole different menu with a lot of choices, a lot of home-cooked food," she said.

"I just hope that we get the support, and we're going to do our best to make everybody happy."

Wilcoxen has previous experience in the restaurant business in Western Illinois. She worked at a restaurant in Hamilton before she became assistant manager of the Highway Family Restaurant in La Harpe.

"I have worked in the business before," she said. "It's just something that I want to do. It's been my dream to be a manager and have my own place."

Wilcoxen said the Taylor restaurant is in a highly visible spot along the "Avenue of the Saints" connecting St. Paul, Minn., with St. Louis, and she hopes to snag hungry travelers as they're passing through Northeast Missouri.

"It's a pretty good location," she said. "And it looks like a nice place, and everybody is nice and friendly."

The 18 Wheeler received some national publicity in 2007 when the Food Network's popular show host, Alton Brown, stopped for breakfast at the restaurant while motorcycling through the area as part of his "Feasting on Asphalt" series, which also included a stop at Quincy's legendary Maid-Rite sandwich shop.

In a YouTube video, Brown said he was lured to the 18 Wheeler by reports that the truck stop cafe served "the country's biggest breakfast." Brown wolfed down a breakfast that consisted of a giant-sized chicken-fried steak, a mass of American fried potatoes, two over-easy eggs, several pieces of toast and a side order of three scrambled eggs, three link sausages and three pancakes.

Several years after Brown visited the 18 Wheeler, the restaurant underwent a major renovation as part of some sweeping changes to the FastLane Convenience Store and truck stop operation.

Seating more than doubled, and the cab section from a semi-tractor-trailer rig was positioned inside the restaurant to add luster to the truck-driving motif.

The restaurant flourished for years while patronized by a steady stream of truckers, travelers, farmers and other area loyalists. Then one day last March, word surfaced that the restaurant was suddenly shutting down because "it's no longer profitable."

But now the business is venturing back -- thanks to Wilcoxen's willingness to give the 18 Wheeler a spin.

"We're just trying to bring the community together and serve home-cooked meals, and we'll just try to do our best to serve the community," she said. "I just hope that it all works out."

Wilcoxen said she is hiring 10 to 12 waitresses, three to four cooks and a dishwasher to work in the restaurant.

"We've had quite a few people apply," she said.

Anyone interested in submitting an application should send a message to Realtor Linette Richards on the 18 Wheeler Facebook page.

Things to Do