Breakfast on Glenstone Avenue
I've never eaten at George's, but I've had my eye on the place since it opened on Glenstone, in 1970.
Glenstone Avenue in Springfield
My memories of Glenstone Avenue go back as far as I can remember. My family lived lots of places, but relatives were anchored in Springfield. Our summer and holiday visits always began with a drive down Glenstone!
My family had no time for dining at George's. Both of my parents had roots in Springfield, so we had grandparents and cousins to visit. We played croquet like my grandmother once did and we ate Grandpa's Chicken in my grandparents' backyard.
My grandma, Daw had lots of food at her house. Her kitchen was always stocked with kid friendly foods before our arrival! Seems like bacon was always cooking!
Rail Haven in September
This past September, I gathered with my siblings once again in Springfield. We came together with some spouses and youngin's, to celebrate my dad's 90th. We stayed at the iconic Rail Haven Motel.
Breakfast Next Door
After all these years I finally got to eat at George's. The '70's era building was right next door to Rail Haven. Goober no longer smiled down from the sign, but "George's Restaurant... Breakfast Anytime" was clearly written.
TV with Breakfast
We turned down the free motel breakfast both mornings and headed over to George's. We didn't try out the counter dining, but I was tempted to grab a stool and watch TV. The Andy Griffith Show was on!
Labor Day Crowd
Our group of 8 made it over for breakfast, early on the Labor Day morning. There were lines forming after we were seated. We couldn't turn down the $2.99 "Recession Proof Breakfast." Don went all out and upgraded his hash browns, with extra onions, bacon & cheese. It was worth an extra 2 bucks! Our tables were covered with eggs and pancakes, biscuits and gravy... all yummy and crazily cheap!
Meeting George's Daughter
I was pretty excited when our waiter said that George's daughter, was in the restaurant at that moment. I grinned, "Oh I would love to meet her!" She was delightful when she came over to introduce herself, but it turns out here daddy George is not George Lindsey. Goober gave up the chain over 30 years ago and the restaurant was taken over by another man named George.
All I could do was laugh! My 12 year old self had thought I was going to meet Goober's daughter. The current George's daughter is delightful, though. All the employees were equally welcoming. What a fun little dining adventure! Decent food, with some amusing moments!
Cookbook Dining Adventure!
Don and I spent one night in Bend last summer. We could have missed this wonderful little tavern, at the foot of Oregon Avenue... but our cookbook reminded us.
Traveling with Cookbooks
The old tavern was still in business after 80+ years! We pulled up and grinned to see that little had changed with the building, over the years. It was July so we saw no, icicles and snow, like this old photo. But we saw lots of pine trees.
Bend was a logging town, when the tavern opened in 1936. The tavern got its name, for the 2 gigantic Ponderosa Pines, just in back. A patio was built around the beautiful trees. In the old photo and the book illustration, it looks like one tree is growing right through the roof.
We stepped inside and felt the mix of old and new. We could see a few reminders of the past. There was a little knotty pine here and a few retro booths there.
Lots of displayed photos helped us imagine how the tavern looked over the years. In 1936, the place opened as a lunch counter, serving local timber workers and their families.
Two women, Marne Gribskov and Eleanor Bechen began the business, during a time when the country was just recovering from the Great Depression. The coffee shop/tavern/dining room, changed and grew over the years.
It wasn't yet 5, so Don and I stepped over to the bar to enjoy the end of Happy Hour. We had a good chat with a few local couples who raved about Bend and made us want to move.
I hopped up a few times to look at the old photos on the wall. There were pictures of the original lunch counter and photos of famous guests who have dined... Clint Eastwood, Ronald Reagan, President and Jackie Kennedy. I love it when restaurants display old photos!
Just past the bar, was a spacious dining room that was added in 1957. I passed a few booths with curtains and that seemed very retro. Then I spotted the two trees, growing through the center of the room!
DJ and the Cookbook
DJ was suddenly the best guide ever. He told me that the Garden Room was added in 1957. It was built right around the two trees that had been on the patio. He took me closer, to study the tree trunks. One was about 300 years old and still thriving. The other was killed by mountain pine beetles over 30 years ago, but the trunk was preserved.
DJ said he would be happy to be our server, whenever we finished up at the bar. We were lucky to get a patio table on such a lovely evening. Once seated, I looked back and was pretty amused to see the living pine, growing right through the roof.
The red umbrellas gave us shade from the evening sun.
Then when the sun got low enough, the umbrellas came down. Our view was even better. We watched a few kayaks and envied the people who lived in the homes across Mirror Pond.
After studying the menu, we dug into some warm, sourdough bread with honey butter. The relaxed, evening atmosphere made us want to slow down and enjoy every minute.
Don ordered the house meatloaf special. It came with two slabs and a zingy, hot fanny gravy! My Chicken Marsala was smothered in a thick sauce of mushrooms and Marsala wine... which I shared with my heavenly mashed potatoes!
We were just finishing, when the manager stopped by our table and introduced herself. "Are you the ones with the cookbook?" Betsy asked with much enthusiasm. Betsy told us she was curious to see the book. I think she said had worked at the Tavern for 40 years, but that seems impossible.
Betsy studied the illustration and chuckled. She remembered specific details about how the door and entrance looked when she first started working. She kept shaking her head and smiling. "Bill will be so excited to see a picture of this book." It turns out that the owner is Bill McCormick, as in the McCormick and Schmick's restaurant chain. He sold the chain a few years ago and now his focus is on Pine Tavern, alone.
Our evening at Pine Tavern ranks pretty high. The atmosphere was comfortable with a good mix of locals and tourists. The pond setting was ideal. The food was yummy and not over priced. And our people encounters were fun... with the silly cookbook!
Lake Placid, NY
In 2014, Don and I stayed at The Mirror Lake Inn. I remember eating breakfast on a screened porch, with a lovely view of the lake.
I also remember looking down at the little cottage at the bottom of the hill and wondering about it.
I don't remember exactly what I ate, sitting on that lovely screen porch. My old photo tells me that I didn't eat any flapjacks. Back then, I didn't know that Mirror Lake Inn was once known for their flapjacks.
The Cookbook and Mirror Lake Inn
Since that time, I've spotted the old hotel in our vintage cookbook. "We'll have to go back and try those pancakes." I told myself after seeing the recipe.
Last July, Don and I were back in upstate New York. This time, I packed the 1950 Ford Treasury Cookbook. We planned to stop for a meal at the inn, while passing through town. I was eager to surprise the staff with page 45, featuring the Inn's Adirondack Flapjacks recipe! Well maybe. Sometimes the cookbook doesn't excite people.
But The Inn's restaurant was not open for lunch. So we headed down the hill to have lunch in The Cottage. The Cottage is part of Mirror Lake Inn, but this was really going to stretch it a bit, with my cookbook adventure.
It was pretty delightful heading into a restaurant that looked like a little storybook house, with shutters and window boxes. Coming from Texas, it was a thrill to see open windows!
I expected to find a restaurant crowded with tourists on a weekend in July. This was the perfect place for a meal, overlooking the lake!
But the dining area was empty and we were invited to pick any table. We of course chose a spot at the window.
The dining area was empty, but the nearby bar wasn't. The drinking crowd didn't seem to care about the gorgeous view, they were missing. They were too busy socializing and enjoying the music, which didn't match the peaceful view from the window.
Danko, from Serbia
But Danko seemed curious when I showed him the illustration of the inn, up the hill. He studied the recipe for a minute. He didn't laugh or gasp, like some do when I hand over the cookbook. But he seemed politely interested and best of all he offered to pose with the book. Yay for that! I believe Danko is about the 30th cookbook poser we've had!
I was ready to eat after our cookbook encounter. I took one peek at the menu and knew I had to have the Beer Soup. It was July, but the skies were overcast and the air felt damp and chilly. (To this Texan) I practically drank down that soup. The tangy flavor had me smacking my lips after each spoonful!
Apricot Chicken Salad
Don's sandwich with pieces of white meat, dried apricots, sliced almonds and sesame ginger was yummy. The greens & tomato salad was an extra treat. Our light lunch was just what was needed.
Even with gray skies, the view was ideal. We watched a few kayaks go by and we thought about the very same lake, when we visited in 1980, during the winter Olympics. We were a lot colder then and the lake was frozen!
Cozy Dining Adventure in Lake Placid
Best of all, we ate our meal and reminisced, about visiting Lake Placid as newlyweds, almost 40 years ago!
Coffee at the 87-Year-Old-Diner
Last September, Don and I spotted this red & white building in downtown Excelsior Springs. We had already eaten breakfast, but we knew we couldn't pass up this diner experience. We headed in for coffee.
Busy at 11:05
We arrived just as breakfast diners were finishing up. Brenda the owner, was already grilling up Philly cheese steak fixings on the griddle. She spun around and announced, "Not serving breakfast now!" We assured her we were just having coffee. Then we each took a seat on one of the 10 counter stools.
Coffee and the Paper
Don and I enjoyed our coffee with a little newspaper reading. We chuckled over the 1957 Smart Shoppers ads, under the glass. We checked out the Arrow brand shirts, advertised for $4.00!
Lots to See and Hear
We pointed and chuckled at the vintage newspaper, but mostly we listened to the diner sounds around us... dishes clanking, food sizzling, bells on the door, jingling and voices!
Brenda and the other two women were teasing and laughing and carrying on, with each other and most of the customers. We were clearly the only non-locals and I was envious.
Chatting with Brenda
Brenda took a breath and leaned on the counter to chat. I wanted to know what time she started her day, since Ray's opens early. "I'm up at 4:15." Brenda answered. I believe she said she got to the diner around 4:30 and opened the door at 6.
Brenda told us a little about Ray's beginnings. In 1932, Ray and his wife started up a chili and burger joint across the street. They opened the current building in 1942. Brenda still forms burgers on the original hamburger press. We were sitting on the stools that were brought over from the old building.
When Brenda became the 4th owner of the business, she received the chili recipe along with the keys. I asked what she liked to cook best and she didn't pause to think. "Everything. I've been cooking at the grill since I was 11 years old."
Betty Boop and Bigs Boys
I'm not sure which owner started the collection of retro memorabilia, but there was a lot. I wonder how many people make the mistake of asking for a Coke... in a diner that's dripping in Pepsi decor?
We dragged out our little visit as long as we could. I never got to peek inside the small window at the end of the room. I never got to check out the titles of the record albums, hanging from the ceiling. Worst of all, I didn't sample the chili or the burger or the garbage sandwich! But it was time for us to hit the road for Kansas City.
Brenda had a special name for that trip... that she happily took all by herself. She smiled as she recalled the joys of traveling, when you only have to please yourself. Mostly she raved about the beauty of the lighthouses she discovered.
So our dining adventure involved no eating. But we spent some time in a cozy setting, surrounded by people and food. We absorbed the atmosphere and some good information. Hopefully we can return someday for a meal...and just maybe, we'll get to Michigan and see some of those lighthouses we learned about!
Country Cooking on the Old Dixie Highway
Seven years ago while on a Florida road trip, Don and I pulled off the Old Dixie Highway to check out this little beauty. We'd already eaten that morning, but bought coffee and looked around. We quickly added Cypress Inn Restaurant (and its Country Cooking) to the "Must Return" list!
This past January, Don and I found ourselves on another Florida road trip. We headed north from St. Pete, with giddy anticipation. Lunch at Cypress Inn!
Before reaching the little restaurant in Cross City, the highway took us over the Suwannee River, right into Dixie County. Two songs came to mind as we crossed the bridge... I sang a few lines, from the one about the river. I have fond memories of belting out Suwannee River as a kid, while our family Ford traveled on that very highway, over that very river.
Big Lot in a Small Town
When we arrived at Cross City's iconic restaurant, we joined other vehicles in the large, unpaved lot. On that January day, it looked like every Dixie County police officer, sheriff and firefighter had already arrived.
Cross City is an odd title, for a town with fewer than 2,000 residents. But maybe the town earned its city status by importance, not size. It is the county seat of Dixie County, after all.
The sweet little side entrance delighted me. I loved the odd texture of the red painted cypress. The door windows were decorated with homey curtains and a sign. We read and chuckled, "Please Come Again" as we headed in.
90 Years Old
The other side of the door, showed a sign that might have made more sense for greeting us. "Cypress Inn Since 1928"
I loved the idea of dining at a roadside cafe, that opened the year my parents were born. I loved the visual, of two white birds, sitting on a cypress tree... dripping with Spanish moss.
At the Counter
We passed through the side dining room and into the front area, with counter seating. A few young women were cleaning up after the rush. They took turns fussing over one woman's 2 month old baby. All were chatty and welcoming. I was delighted to be introduced to the baby.
The old restaurant hasn't changed much since it opened 90 years ago, but I noted a few differences from 7 years ago. My old photo shows a juke box and upper shelves, filled antiques and a quilt. The display of dishes, even looked different back then.
The display was more colorful on this visit. I asked if the dishes were the restaurant's original plates and cups. I guess that was stupid question. The bright china matched the unstained potholders. I was told, "Oh no. Those are dishes from the Pioneer Woman collection." It took me a minute to realize we were talking about the blogger-turned-TV-personality-pioneer-woman.
The Cypress Inn got its name because of the "Pecky Cypress" paneling that covers the walls and ceiling. The Dixie County area is home to many lumber yards and sawmills and this special cypress is one of their unusual products.
At first glance the brown and white wood made me think of a stage set or a cartoon drawing. There was something fake looking about the weathered appearance of the wood. But the dips and holes in the wood were created naturally, by the growth of pecky fungus.
Words of Wisdom
Tacked onto the pecky cypress, I saw a few little reminder signs. "Be Thankful" and "Cowboys Welcome"
I also saw some words of wisdom scribbled in pen on the cypress... beside the Bible quote. Actually the graffiti was mostly names... nothing profound or rude.
Where to Sit?
There were open stools at the counter, but Don and I headed into the side dining room, where the folks in uniform were dining. I asked the cashier, if the tables were original. They looked mighty old. "Well..." She pondered a bit. "My dad owned the restaurant from the time I was about 6 to 16. They've been here as long as I can remember."
More Helpful Folks
Don and I looked over the menu first. Then I popped up to have a peek at the buffet in the front room. The fellow in the overalls was pretty clear. "There's nothing here that's not great! I've been in town working for 2 days and this is the second time I've eaten here. It's all good!"
All the locals were doing the buffet, but it was just more food than I was up for. I headed back to the table and paused to look at a photo of Cypress Inn, when it was more than a restaurant.
I studied the old photo from when Cross City was mostly a company town for Shamrock Lumber Co. It was odd to imagine our little restaurant having a service station and hotel rooms at one time. A police officer on his way to the buffet, paused to chat. "If you like old buildings, you should look at the Putnam Hotel across the road!" He was incredibly enthused about recent renovations of the old hotel... which also has pecky cypress wood!
Time to Eat!
I ordered the BLT and could barely see the bread underneath my mountain of bacon. "Oh we do bacon well!" Our server said with a proud grin. "We're a southern restaurant and we're going to feed you well!"
The menu itself looked retro, with old fashioned prices... skillet image... opening hours of 5 am... and the words... "Southern Hospitality Dixie Country Style"
Don and I will go a for a bigger feast next time, but we were both in a sandwich mood. Don was pleased with his good old fashioned cheeseburger and fries!
I didn't take a photo of the dining room this time. I felt a little restrained with all the people dining in uniform. But here is a photo from a few years back, showing the brown wood walls and beams... and a couple of deer heads, hidden in the shadows.
Sometimes a trip to the Ladies Room becomes part of my dining adventure memory. (There have been some odd ones over the years!)
I just had to capture this image, with the mint green walls and vintage tile. But best of all was the platform toilet, that just made me laugh. I'm guessing this was the answer to some tricky plumbing issue back in the day.
I don't know, but it amused me!
We headed to the car feeling content, that we could put a check on our list.
Don and I discover so many curious places on our travels, but we don't have time to experience them all. This was one of those places that we spotted, then added to the list. 7 years ago, I crossed my fingers that we really would have a chance to return. Cypress Inn asked us to "Come Again" and we did!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.