JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — One of the largest neon signs in Missouri has been restored after more than two decades.
The historic Wilder's Steakhouse sign in Joplin was taken down in February for restoration and returned to the restaurant in early April, the Joplin Globe reported.
Owners Mike and Marsha Pawlus received a federal grant last year through the Route 66 National Corridor Preservation Program for the restoration. Congress established the program in 2001 to preserve and protect Route 66's history.
Wilder's neon sign glowed so bright that it would draw travelers off Route 66 passing nearby.
The sign was first installed around 1950. The Pawluses bought the restaurant in 1996.
The restoration cost approximately $43,000 with the grant covering about $24,000, Marsha Pawlus said. The owners paid the remainder through community donations and fundraisers.
The Route 66 Association of Missouri approached the Pawluses a year ago with the idea to restore the sign and apply for the federal grant to cover part of its expense. The St. Louis-based association works to preserve, promote and develop Route 66.
"I think it's a great deal for Joplin to have this as a part of the community and understand the heritage of the sign," said Rick Parmley, a regular customer at Wilder's. "It's pretty neat."
Marsha Pawlus said the restoration was "a big commitment, but we're just so excited to bring a little bit of history back to Joplin."