Photo by George Lauby
New sign above a concrete block wall that was built a year ago.
Ken Bible tries to repair his sign, 2009
A new sign now prominently points the way to North Platte's mostly hidden restaurant - the Pink Poodle. The Pink Poodle café opened two years ago, taking customers back a half century or more to the food, décor and memorabilia of the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
Owners Ken and Connie Bible spent decades collecting items for their café. Photos of stars such as Annette Funicello, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Bob Marley, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Ricky Nelson, Cheech and Chong, Jimmy Hendrix and the Beatles hang on the walls.
Soon after the little café opened in August 2011, a bitter parking lot dispute with Attorney Allen Fugate came to life. Fugate owns the adjoining lot, as well as a building on the north side of the Bible's building.
Their spirited dispute first erupted some seven years ago, but the seeds were sown in the early part of the last century, when for some reason the title to the lot was separated from the building next to it and the adjoining properties came under separate ownership.
The Bibles have owned their building for nearly 20 years. Six years or so ago, Fugate bought the adjoining building, which came with the parking lot.
Fugate and the Bibles have been unable to agree to share the parking lot. For awhile after Fugate bought the adjoining building, the Bibles rented 5 parking spaces from him in the lot, but that agreement fell apart over a dispute that escalated from a pop machine near the entrance of the Bibles bigger store – Midwest Screen Printing. The pop machine was technically on Fugate’s property.
Their dispute ended up in court in 2006, after Fugate parked a trailer on his parking lot so close to one of Bible's doorways that the doors could not be used. The Bible's built another doorway and filed suit, asking the court to rectify Fugate’s actions, which they called “unreasonable, arbitrary and done in bad faith.”
In 2009, Fugate called the cops when Ken Bible suspended a ladder from the roof of his building so he could repair a sign on his building, without setting foot in the parking lot.
Fugate said Bible was violating the airspace over his parking lot. The sign was never repaired and is no longer there.
The parties quietly settled the lawsuit later that year. But when the Pink Poodle opened in 2011, Fugate took steps to ensure that the Poodle’s customers would not use his parking lot.
First he posted signs, but customers came to the Pink Poodle anyway from North Platte and from a wider area, often parking wherever they could. A statewide magazine, Nebraska Life, featured the colorful café in a spread on the best things about North Platte. Visitors from all over the country stopped to eat.
In August 2012, Fugate hired a crew to build a concrete block wall along the edge of his lot – right beside the entrance to the Pink Poodle. The wall split the front view of the café.
The Bibles pondered their options. At the time, Ken told the Bulletin he could reconfigure the entrance, but he was a little worried what Fugate might do next. He said the two of them were not speaking.
The Bibles finally decided to post a sign that can be seen from U.S. Highway 83/ Jeffers St. Ken set posts on his property, right next to the back of the wall. He said he took care not to invade any part of Fugate’s “airspace” while he was fastening the sign in place.
The sign was posted Wednesday. Business increased for the first four days. Now, motorists from out-of-state can find the café more easily.
U.S. Highway 83 brings out-of-state motorists within a half block of their no-longer-hidden retro café.