Nov. 11 sale set for Rooster items

Lots has changed since this picture of the Red Rooster was taken in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Gas is no longer 29 cents a gallon, as indicated by the Conoco sign.

Bits & pieces of the iconic Red Rooster Restaurant will be a part of Tracy for a long time to come, even if the building is razed to make way for new development.
Plans are to sell the eatery’s distinctive red booths and stools, along with many of its fixtures, equipment, tables and chairs, and distinctive memorabilia. The sale, which will have items individually marked, is planned for Saturday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Wheels Across the Prairie has requested one of the booths, with plans to recreate a corner of the restaurant at the museum. (See advertisement page 13).
The “Red Rooster” name has been a part of the Tracy business scene since the 1930s, when John and Millie Smarzik established a small café and gas station south and west of the intersection of Morgan St. and Hwy. 14.
In 1956-57, the Smarziks moved the operation north of Hwy. 14. with the construction of the present-day Red Rooster Restaurant and Truck Stop. Vic and Winston Peterson were the general contractors. The new facility included bunks and showers for long-distance truck drivers.
Several parties leased the restaurant from the Smarziks in the 1960s, including Betty and Ivan Fennern and Leona and Vaghn Rahanian.
In about 1968, the Tri-County Co-op (which then owned the adjacent Hwy. 14 property that is now occupied by the Tracy Public Works Dept. and the municipal water treatment plant) bought the Red Rooster property and began operating the gas station.
The co-op leased the Red Rooster Restaurant to Bob Nelson, who operated the café from 1968-73.
Carolyn and Don Engelkes began leasing the restaurant from the co-op in February of 1973, and bought the property (minus the fuel tanks and pumps) in 1984, at about the time the co-op went out of business.
The new owners added new south and west doors onto the Red Rooster in 1984. A “sun room” was added in 1987 to expand restaurant seating.
Several parties leased the convenience store/gas station, including the Tri-County Co-op, Merle and Agnes Caron, CENEX, and later Robert and Donna Caron (1995 to 2000).
The last convenience store/gas station on the Red Rooster site, Swen’s Fuel, operated by Dave and Cindy Swenhaugen, closed in 2006.
Robert and Donna Caron bought the Red Rooster Restaurant from Carolyn and Don Engelkes in 2003. The restaurant closed in December 2015.