Traditions Inn

Traditions Inn

Traditions Inn
2905 14th Street
Columbus, NE  68601
(402) 563-3333

Lunch hours: Mon. – Sat., 11am – 1:30pm
Pub and Dinner hours: Thurs.-Sun., 5pm to close

A grand restaurant tradition in Columbus

9 Traditions sign4 For those who think fine dining in rural Nebraska equates to pulled pork and potato salad, it will only take one visit to Traditions Inn in Columbus to put your mind, and your palate, at ease.

It’s not a secret that our pioneer roots brought about a history of simple amenities. When settlers came to this land they often brought with them what few personal treasurers would ride shotgun in a covered wagon with their next of kin. Frills and exquisite treasures were left back east as dugouts and sod houses were the norm for this new breed of American settler. However, a few brought with them the ability to create a grand life in this new territory. Architecture and heirlooms graced the homes of privileged people who settled in Nebraska towns, and it was in one of these gems that our Rural Foodies experience took place.

A charming restaurant and pub

Situated at the corner of 29th Avenue and 13th Street in Columbus’ historic downtown district sits a stately home turned restaurant and pub as charming as its owners. Purchased in 1998 by Pat and Scott Mueller, Traditions Inn seems to be an eternal inspiration for entrepreneurs. Originally built in 1890, this home has served as a boarding house, apartment, tea room and gift shop. A conservatory linking the home to a 1920’s Dutch Colonial style house to the west creates a grand space for the Muellers to execute their culinary and hospitality vision.

Traditions Inn On a Thursday we strolled into Traditions Inn for lunch and a memorable experience. You expect great things from a restaurant with well preserved architectural details like stained glass windows, 10 foot ceilings and quarter sawn oak crown molding. The interior design was spot on for this style of home yet not heavily decorated with precious antiques that make you feel like you are a liability during your dining experience. The perfect amount of comfort and charm. We were greeted by a waitress who made us feel like we were having lunch in her own home. It was big city service in this small Nebraska town as she presented us with menus that highlighted seasonal offerings and listed lunch and dessert specials made fresh that day.

Meals created from local produce and food sources

The lunch menu proved to be very fitting for our lovely setting and options ranged from soup and salad to sandwiches and small plates, mostly created from local produce and food sources. Farm-to-table is a concept you would expect to be popular in our rural setting, however, restaurants find it difficult to highlight local ingredients. It was a treat to know our lunch was prepared with food that didn’t originate in a can. We decided upon the corn chowder to start, chicken salad three ways, and kale and ancient grains salad. Once our order was placed and our freshly brewed herbal iced teas arrived, I took a self-guided tour of Traditions Inn.

Traditions Inn By noon the main dining room was nearly filled to capacity and I maneuvered through large parties of birthday clubs and civic groups. A well-trained eye must have been involved with the renovation of this space as the attention to detail is near perfection. Guests dine among the charm of vintage elements like the original coal burning fireplace and raised panel pocket doors. The light-filled conservatory was already seated with guests and through a series of French doors they had a perfect view of the gazebo and garden area. Even though we were in the beginning of the fall season, the outdoor space was lush with greenery, and the pond was stocked with happy koi. Everywhere I turned, I stumbled upon a different section of the restaurant as the space included an additional gathering room, formal dining room and pub.

Corn chowder a bright beginning

I found my way back to the restaurant just as lunch arrived, prompt and looking delicious. The corn chowder was a bright beginning to the meal. A buttery puree of seasonal sweet corn and fresh vegetables were the simplistic base to this dish. The crispness of a few sprigs of cilantro from the Traditions Inn garden cut through the creaminess of the chowder. Chicken salad three ways was a perfect medley of exceptional flavors. Curry and chipotle, as well as a signature chicken salad, were offered up as a trio. An array of fruit and a homemade cranberry muffin accompanied the plate. The kale and ancient grains salad was plated beautifully and topped with peppers and tomatoes from the garden. The kale seemed to be absent but an array of mixed greens and spinach was a nice substitute. Quinoa and currants were tossed with mandarin oranges and snow peas in a citrus vinaigrette that was a nice crisp note on a chilly fall day.

Once our plates were cleared, the dessert tray arrived. Attention to detail is not limited to the interior design at Traditions Inn. Nestled upon a silver tray were decadent homemade offerings appealing to any guest’s sweet tooth. We wanted one of each, but we decided upon the bread pudding with a lemon sauce. It was served soothing and warm with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Everything you would expect from a dessert of this caliber.

Traditions Inn

We left Traditions Inn feeling content and satisfied. This is the kind of place that makes you feel special. On the way to the car we strolled through the immaculate gardens and took one last look at the grand Victorian home that calls itself a restaurant. After our dining experience, it’s obvious why the Muellers settled upon the name Traditions Inn. This is a place where memories are made, whether you are having lunch or celebrating a wedding reception. A community hub that’s been around long enough to serve a second generation of patrons. People come for the food and end up returning for the memories.

It is a tradition, indeed.

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Scott Rager

Robert Scott Rager is a writer, designer, entrepreneur and blogger living in south central Nebraska. You can read more of his work on his blog, County Seat Living (

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