Sometime leading up to World War II, a slim, witty, former army clerk named Harold Halstead worked at a local shoe store where he met a heckuva woman named Pauline Palmer who worked at the federal land bank as a legal secretary. Pauline was too “darling” for Harold to resist marrying before being sent off to the war. Once Harold returned from the war, he began working for The Harkert’s Hamburgers chain of diners and discovered his love for the restaurant business. When Harkert’s went out of business, he joined up with two fellow business men to form the Koffee House Systems of diners. With Pauline in command of the books and a knack for knowing which homemade meals and desserts were a hit with the crowds, Koffee Houses began their reign along busy Omaha streets such as Dodge, Locust, Leavenworth and Ames Street.

After several years, the trio decided to split up. Confident in what he knew best, Harold chose to open his very own café at 8505 North 30th street in Florence. The established and now popular misspelling of the word “koffee” was a namesake that Harold decided to keep.

Little did Harold and Pauline know that what started out as a successful business venture, became a uniquely blessed lifestyle for his own family and would touch the lives of so many people in the community. Their oldest son John, followed in his father’s footsteps and began cooking at the age of 14. Soon after, their 2nd son Tom joined the ranks by washing dishes and their four daughters (Judy, Nancy, Susie and Beth) rounded out the employee roster as wait staff, cashiers and table bussers. Harold expanded his business by acquiring two truck stops in western Nebraska. After a period of about 6 years, Harold made the decision to release the two businesses in western Nebraska and focus on his family and the café in Florence.

In 1968, Harold moved “The Koffee House” to the corner of 30th and State Street, added his name, stuck up an orange “FOOD” sign and Harold’s Koffee House has made history ever since.


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