Tri-County Truckstop & Restaurant

Located in Villa Ridge, Mo
Formerly the Old Diamonds Inn
The original Diamonds restaurant was built on this location in 1927 by Spencer Groff. The property’s wedge shape gave the business its trademark name., The Diamonds. This business flourished over the years, and eventually expanded to include rental cabins and two swimming pools. In 1948, a fire broke out, and completely destroyed the original building. It was so intense, that traffic on Route 66 was shut down in both directions. The existing art deco brick structure was completed in 1950. The new building was billed as the ‘World’s Largest Roadside Restaurant’.
It continued to operate until 1967 when it was bypassed by Interstate 44. The business moved to a new location about 2 miles east, but is now closed. The original location reopened several years later as the Tri County Truck Stop, but is currently closed.
Some of the staff at this restaurant have experienced the ghost of someone tapping them on the shoulder when using restroom, when they turn around no one is there. Children were known to panic when seeing what they describe as a blood monster on the stairway. This place is one of the ten most haunted places in Missouri.
Spencer Groff housed the first Diamonds in a wooden building at the Y where U.S. 66 split from the Old State Road, picked up the Old Wire Road, and headed west. After it burned in 1948, he teamed up with Louis Eckelkamp to build a second Diamonds. While Eckelkamp lured families into the Gardenway Motel with a homey American Colonial architecture, Groff and Eckelkamp projected an aura efficiency to travelers and truckers with a Streamline Modern architecture at the Diamonds. The great curved front of the beige brick restaurant overlooked the intersection of the Old State Road and the Old Wire Road. While families were welcome at the Diamonds, Groff and Eckelkamp isolated them from the truckers a separate dining room. They provided truckers with sleeping rooms and showers on the second floor. They directed civilians to the Gardenway. The Diamonds was one of the rare businesses to survive the coming of the interstates. When I-44 replaced 66 in 1973, Groff and Eckelkamp took their sign in the shape of a diamond, moved to the interchange at Gray Summit and built a motel and restaurant that catered to tourists. The Tri-County Truck Stop, which had lost its building to I-44 in Sullivan, twenty miles west of Villa Ridge, took over the building, and mounted a sign that stretched the length of the roof line.

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