Throughout the history of the community, every busy neighborhood throughout North Omaha had their own everyday places, including grocery stores, dry cleaners, hardware stores, movie theaters and more. An important fixture of many neighborhoods was the cafe, diner, or restaurant that served hungry people of all ages, including workers, wives, families, or lonely people. Another important fixture was the barbershop This is a history of two brothers who ran two such places in the Saratoga neighborhood of North Omaha.
La Rue’s Scalp Treatment
Shown here is an artifact from LaRue’s Scalp Treatment, courtesy of Deborah La Rue via Kristine Soto, and the Ames Avenue signage for the product located at 2305 Ames Avenue.
William Sherman LaRue (1889-1965) was a barber who opened a barbershop at 2309 Ames Avenue in 1919. He stayed in business for 46 years until retiring at age 76 in 1965.
From 1940 to 1952, LaRue manufactured and sold “LaRue’s Master Scalp Treatment.” Advertised to promote hair growth for bald and balding people, this elixir was made at 2309 Ames Avenue, in the storefront adjacent to LaRue’s Cafe. In 1950, the Federal Trade Commission heard a complaint that William LaRue used “misleading advertising in selling his hair tonic,” according to the World-Herald. In August of that year, the FTC dismissed all allegations against LaRue after finding that his sales were “inconsequential” rather than “substantial,” as the complaint had stated. A year later, LaRue released an ad in the paper showing spectacular hair growth on a client and stating, “I won’t claim this treatment can grow hair on every scalp, but the unusual result shown here is only one of hundreds of cases. Many men and women say it works wonders for itchy scalp, falling hair, and dandruff.” The paper also referred to LaRue as a “scalp expert.”
After LaRue stopped selling his elixir, he continued running his barbershop for another 13 years. He died four months after retiring.
William’s brother Roy Sirland LaRue (1892-1970) opened a restaurant at 2305 Ames Avenue starting in 1916. Just two years earlier, he’d married Martha La Rue. Together they ran the restaurant for nearly 30 years, from 1916 through 1942. Throughout the years, the cafe served regular meals, drinks and social time for people throughout the Saratoga neighborhood and beyond. The restaurant was a family affair with siblings, children and friends pitching in from time to time.
When LaRue’s Cafe closed in 1942, the couple retired to Minnesota and ran the “Camp LaRue Resort” in Spicer.
Today, there’s no sign of the longtime businesses called LaRue’s Cafe and LaRue’s Barbershop in North Omaha. The buildings were demolished in the 1980s, and almost no older timers are left who remember the businesses, either. Please leave your thoughts and memories in the comments below.
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