Coffee Shop Memories

Anyone who ever dined at the Hotel Vinita Coffee Shop bright ens up when asked to describe the food there.. By all accounts it was simply fabulous. Locals, as well as travelers passing through, spread the word that the Hotel Vinita was tops when it came to fine dining As late as 1959, the following items were consumed by appreciative diners during weeknights:

Grilled Tenderloin of Steak $2.50 Roast Sirloin $1.50

Grilled Pork Chops $1.25 Fresh Oysters (fried) $.90 Steak Sandwich $.40

Fresh Vegetable Soup $.25 Hamburger $30

These prices for the dinners in-eluded soup, salad, and hot rolls. The choice of drinks were: coffee, tea and buttermilk; also included in the price of the dinner.

People from miles around eagerly looked forward to Sunday dinner at the hotel. All of the fol lowing specials were available every Sunday: roast pork, roast beef, leg of lamb, baked turkey. fried chicken, ham, and fresh salmon. The dinners included a "starter" of tomato juice or fruit cocktail, followed by a soup or salad, the entree, potatoes and other vegetables, and hot home made rolls.

The waitresses wore uniforms of white shirtwaist dresses with green aprons and little green caps perched on top of their hairnets. Many locals will remember the head waitress Elva Burns who still lives in Vinita. She and the manager, Mrs. Gertrude Driskill, made sure that the throngs of custom ers were well served and none of them went away hungry.

Weekday lunches were not as

elaborate as the Sunday dinners but the food was still delicious. The local business m e n had many meetings over the fine cuisine’ of one Mrs. Gregory who served as the head cook. Almost every day a special table would be filled by the women from down town law offices and banks who made the most of their lunch hour at the coffee shop.

One of the cooks who was instrumental in the wide-spread success of the coffee shop was Ruby Dick who arrived at 6 a m. every morning for over 20 years. A big part of her job was to make pies, cakes, and hundreds of hot rolls. No meal was complete with out buttered hot rolls and Ruby never failed to produce them.

Despate the fact that she was raising several small children and lived outside White Oak. she was always dependable. Ruby walked from her rural home to the high way where she hitched a ride to town in the early morning dark ness and then worked until 6 p.m.

Ruby took great pride in her affiliation with the most popular restaurant in the area.

Ruby’s adherence to the golden rule and her steadfast refusal to say anything negative about any other person. made her a good worker and a pleas ant person to be around. Her gentle, patient nature may not have made her hot dinner rolls taste any better, but it did add to the overall atmosphere of con geniality and good fortune that were hallmarks during the hey-days of the Hotel Vinita.

Note: Thanks to Lucille Harris, Ann Driskill, and Linda Chandler for their help with today's column.

by Kathleen Duncamp, Vinita Daily Journal, May 13, 2002


Ruby Dick was an assistant cook and baker for over twenty years at the Hotel Vinita Coffee Shop. Here she   is seen in her cook's uniform holding one of her special cakes.

The  Hotel Vinita Coffee Shop was widely know for its   outstanding food and   service.    Many   Vinitans fondly recall dining there    when   a   large     bowl of   delicious  chili only cost   $.30.
dat 2003

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