Future of iconic restaurant north of Lebanon in the balance

Thursday, June 3, 2021, was supposed to be it, the last day.

After 31 years, Shirley May’s Restaurant & Catering, a longtime institution on Highway 20, halfway between Lebanon and Albany, was closing its doors.


Proprietor Shirley Dixon had accepted that fate. So had her customers. So had we all, nibbling our last bowl of chili, our last plate-sized pancake, in a festive if somber air.

But this is Shirley May’s, home to big breakfasts and, apparently, bigger miracles.

When reached by telephone Saturday morning, Dixon was ecstatic. She said that Linn County, which had shuttered the property Thursday over a required septic-system update, had given her an extension until the end of the month.

“I’ll tell you what: I feel a whole lot better,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t know anything about it until yesterday. It’s wonderful, absolutely wonderful. My customers are going to be so happy. I moped around here until I got the phone call yesterday and I thought, ‘Oh, my God!’”

So the Teen Burger statue outside, the restaurant’s faithful guardian, will beckon passersby to a hearty meal again, at least for a few more weeks, reopening for business at 7 a.m. Wednesday, June 9.

See more of this story in the June issue of Lebanon Local (and much, much more).