The Legacy of Bronco's Burgers: A Pioneer in Omaha's Fast Food Scene


Bronco’s holds a special place in the hearts of Omaha’s residents. Established in 1959, it became the city’s first fast food restaurant, revolutionizing the local dining culture. This iconic eatery has not only paved the way for other similar establishments but has also become a symbol of Omaha’s vibrant food scene. In this article, we will delve into the history, success, and unique features that have made Bronco’s Burgers a beloved institution in the heart of Nebraska.

The Birth of a Legend

Bill Barnes, the mastermind behind Bronco’s Burgers, had a vision to bring fast, delicious food to the people of Omaha. Inspired by a trip to Chicago, he decided to establish the first location at 30th and Fort St. in the northern section of the city. Little did he know that this humble beginning would mark the start of a culinary revolution in Omaha.

Within three years, the success of the original location prompted Barnes to expand. A second store was opened at 45th and Leavenworth streets, complete with a captivating neon sign that would become an iconic symbol of the restaurant and the surrounding area. The neon sign’s spinning lasso evokes a sense of nostalgia, transporting patrons back to the 1960s and the traditional dining experience that Bronco’s represents.


Driving Change in Omaha’s Dining Culture

Bronco’s Burgers played a pivotal role in transforming Omaha’s dining landscape. As the first fast food restaurant to grace the city, it introduced a new way of eating that appealed to the fast-paced lifestyle of its residents. The initial success of the restaurant caught the attention of investors, leading to the opening of franchises in neighboring states and across the Omaha metropolitan area.

The founding Barnes family continues to successfully operate two Bronco’s locations in Omaha. Blake Barnes, the current General Manager, attributes the enduring success of the restaurant to the unwavering consistency of his staff and the commitment to using high-quality ingredients from the very beginning.

A Commitment to Quality

Throughout its long history, Bronco’s has maintained a steadfast dedication to providing top-notch food. A key figure in ensuring this consistency was Henry Rice, who was a key figure in the company since its inception. Rice’s unwavering commitment to maintaining the exacting standards set in 1959 has helped Bronco’s retain its reputation for excellence.

Unlike many fast food chains that rely on frozen ingredients, Bronco’s has always prioritized using fresh, never frozen, 100% all beef for their burgers. This commitment to quality sets them apart, giving their food a taste that is more reminiscent of a classic diner experience than traditional fast food. It’s this attention to detail that has endeared Bronco’s  to generations of Omaha residents.

The Legendary and Award Winning, Bronco’s Fries

One of the most iconic aspects of Bronco’s is their unique approach to serving french fries. Instead of the typical portion control seen at other fast-food establishments, Bronco’s takes a more generous approach. They fill the portioned bag of fries until it overflows into the larger bag containing the rest of the order. This whimsical and generous practice adds an element of generosity and flair to the meal, making it a memorable experience for customers and a reason they’ve kept coming back for over 60 years.

Voted “Best Of Omaha” year after year, it’s an honor everyone at Bronco’s holds dear.   Hand cut from whole russet potatoes, the only other ingredients are the oil used to fry them and a little salt (which a customer can request not to have added).

Bronco’s Impact on Omaha’s Culinary Landscape

Bronco’s has had a profound impact on Omaha’s culinary identity. It has become an integral part of the city’s fabric, beloved by locals and visitors alike. Despite fluctuations in its fortunes over the years, Bronco’s Burgers remains a cherished institution in Omaha.

With its commitment to quality, and a nod to the city’s history, Bronco’s has captured the hearts and taste buds of generations. It stands as a testament to the fact that maintaining integrity and delivering exceptional food can be a successful business model.

The Future of Bronco’s Burgers

As Bronco’s continues to thrive in Omaha, it is poised to carry its legacy forward. The restaurant’s rich history, dedication to quality, and unique offerings ensure that it will remain a beloved fixture in the city’s dining scene for years to come.


Bronco’s has left an indelible mark on Omaha’s culinary landscape. As the first fast food restaurant in the city, it sparked a revolution, paving the way for others to follow. With its commitment to quality, fresh ingredients, and a touch of nostalgia, Bronco’s has become an institution, cherished by generations of Omaha residents. Whether it’s the iconic neon sign, the overflowing award winning French fries, or the unwavering dedication to excellence, Bronco’s Burgers continues to captivate the hearts and palates of those who seek a taste of Omaha’s rich food culture.