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Paxton, Nebraska

Ole's Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge

What do a giraffe, an elephant, and reasonably priced steaks have in common? This roadside restaurant filled with exotic taxidermy. 

You can’t eat them, but Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge in Nebraska is filled with moose, elephants, giraffe, elk, and countless other animals mounted on every flat surface. You might come for the steak, but you’ll definitely stay for the world-spanning taxidermy menagerie on display.

Founded by Rosser O. Herstedt, a Paxton, Nebraska lifer who was better known simply as “Ole,” the Big Game Steakhouse was a treated like a clubhouse from the start. After purchasing the bar in 1933, Ole mounted the first piece of taxidermy in 1938: the head of an elk he had killed. Over the course of the next 30+ years, Ole travelled the globe, hunting bigger and more rare game, returning home to share his tales with the hunting buddies that would gather at the lounge. By the time he finally retired in 1988, his lounge was filled with mounts from all across the world.

Even after Ole stopped his hunting days, the Big Game Lounge continued to grow its collection as new owners added more pieces. The space was expanded and became a steakhouse as well as a lounge, providing even more space for the expanding gallery. Today there are over 200 taxidermy mounts on display, and growing. Ole’s even has a full, stuffed polar bear on display, which has also become the watering hole’s mascot.

While the steakhouse and bar have become quite the attraction, amassing a collection of photos of celebrity visitors to accent the collection of animals, it still caters to the local hunter crowd just as it always did. Some might see the collection of deceased beasts on display at Ole’s to be barbaric or somewhat morbid, but then, they probably shouldn’t be visiting a steakhouse in Nebraska.