Throwback Thursday – Murray’s, an iconic former Bowling Green restaurant

For nearly 80 years, Murray’s Restaurant on the historic 31-W Bypass was the place to be in Bowling Green. We looked into the archives of the College Heights Herald, Bowling Green Daily News, and Warren County census data to put together a little more of the history of one of the area’s most famous former hot spots.

The 1940 census paints a picture of the Murray family in Bowling Green. James Earl and Marie Murray were married with a five-year-old child, living at 1149 Kenton Street, just a couple blocks away from their restaurant. By the 1950s, the restaurant was busy since the highway was one of the biggest thoroughfares running between Louisville and Nashville. Before the days of the interstate in the 1960s, everyone who drove thru Bowling Green drove by Murray’s. 

After the interstate was completed, the restaurant became more of a college greasy spoon. WKU students visited to study or have a late night hangout. Murray’s was open 24 hours in those days, all the way up to 1993. An April issue of the College Heights Herald that year pleaded with new management and WKU students to help staff the much-needed third shift, the busiest time of day.

By the 1990s, developments along Scottsville Road with new fast food chains and major box stores made business along the bypass dwindle. The midcentury Murray’s became more of a political hangout, as college students ventured further from campus to shop and dine. Candidates for local and state elections would visit the restaurant on weekends, but management changes and costs outweighed the business during the week, shutting the restaurant down by August 2004, according to the Bowling Green Daily News archives. 

Sitting vacant for nearly 20 years with a fading neon sign that no longer shines, the spot is a hollow memory of what was once a bustling Bowling Green must-see. The old Murray’s is set to be demolished soon.