Tie & Timber in Springfield, Missouri
Breweries don't usually make it to the Dining Adventure blog.
But in June, Don and I visited Tie & Timber Beer Company, 2 times. There was something oddly magical about the place. There is some food involved in my sloppy write-up.
"Ales and Rails" on Cherry Street
We were visiting my Dad in Springfield and ran across the brewery, just blocks from our motel. It was on Cherry Street, near the railroad tracks that I remember from childhood.
The business is on property, where a lumber yard once stood in 1918. I remember, because it was still there in the 1960's, when we used to visit my grandparent's house, where Dad grew up. The tracks weren't far from their house or my my aunt and uncle's. I'm not sure how many years the railroad tracks transported timber and lumber, but at some point the lumber yard closed. A tanning salon was here when a young couple thought about opening up a brewery, about 5 years ago.
The weather was heavenly, the evening we discovered Tie & Timber. Friends and families were just beginning to arrive. I guessed that some had walked over from the houses in nearby Rountree Neighborhood. A couple arrived on bikes and one family approached T & T on foot, walking down the train tracks.
Don and I headed inside to check out the options for craft beer. There were at least 18. Don was pretty excited.
Families and Friends
We sat outside and watched. We spotted friends greeting one another and patting each others' dogs. Kids from different tables played together. I watched a dad, teaching his child to play chess.
2 moms arrived with kids. After they ordered beer, they unpacked a spread of picnic food. (There were signs encouraging people to bring their own food) I felt like we were at a church picnic, only better.
Tea Bar & Bites... Skully's Ramen
Two days later, we stopped by again. This time we wanted to enjoy our beer and wine, with food. After we enjoyed our drinks for a while, I went on a mission to find a meal.
The neighborhood near Cherry Street, had many options. I vaguely remember this area from childhood visits to Springfield. Beautiful homes and a few little shops. Today we can't buy lumber, but we can buy cakes and ramen, pizza, pasta or tacos... from cute little buildings, near cute little houses.
Old Grocery Store
I recognized the green and white building. Nearly 80 years ago, it had been The Cherry Street Grocery Store. I wasn't exactly alive then, but my dad was. He was a young teen when he worked there.
I remember my dad pointing the little store out to us, when we were kids. I was impressed when he told me he'd worked at the grocery store. I thought that sounded cool. It was a job I could understand!
Cherry Street Grocery Store
In 2014, when visiting Springfield, we drove Dad by the old grocery store. It had a sign saying, Homegrown Food.
Dad's legs were bothering him. He didn't want to go in, but I did. Inside, I looked at the old floors and admired the wooden counter. I could picture my young dad, stocking shelves.
I met Brad that day. He was so moved to learn that Dad had once worked in the store. He came out to the car to introduce himself and handed Dad a complimentary bottle of root beer.
Bryce in 2021
I stepped inside the old grocery once again, during my search for dinner. The store had changed and I met the new owner Bryce. He told me about their house made treats and ice cream, but I had my eye on some miniatures in the window.
They weren't really for sale, but we laughed and talked and I eventually left with 3 dollhouse miniatures. I still didn't have dinner, but what fun! I decorated our picnic table and had a couple sips of wine. Then I got serious about finding food.
Ott's was actually right next to Tie & Timber. The tiny Italian restaurant was housed in an old filling station. They've been serving pasta for 20+ years.
I headed in and took a quick look at the cozy interior. The kitchen appeared to be in the garage portion.
I glanced at the menu and grinned. The prices looked like they were from my childhood. I ordered the House Casserole Meal for $5.55.
The nice young man said I could wait for my order on one of the pews, or he could bring it to me outside when it was ready.
I took a look at the old photo on the wall and imagined the DX Station 50+ years ago. Then I headed outside to wait and chatted with the sweetest older woman, who just walked over from her house. She practially swooned when she told me how much she loved her neighborhood. I was ready to go house shopping.
Pasta at the Picnic Table
After a few minutes the young man brought out a bag with my hot meal. I headed back to Don at the picnic table and surprised him with our shared feast.
Baked pasta casserole, Caesar salad, toasted ravioli and bread! Plenty for 2 people and less than 6 dollars. How could this be? It was tasty, but mostly it was just so darn fun, eating at our table as the sun lowered and more folks gathered.
Eating and Watching
Don and I sipped and ate and watched. I can't remember what craft beers Don tried and I only remember that I had red wine.
We didn't exactly have a restaurant dining adventure, but we had a memorable evening.
As the sun sunk lower, we headed back towards our motel. We took a shortcut on the tracks.
The next day I talked to Dad about his memory of the tracks. He talked about flattening pennies when he was young and hopping a train, when he was older.
This is sort of an odd write up for the old Dining Blog, but I will remember this evening well. Yay for wine and pasta and little bit of nostalgia, on a summer evening.
On Route 66
This cute little cafe is named for College Street, the street that it sits on.
But College Street used to be Route 66. You'd think they'd to capitalize on that!
A Night on Route 66
Don and I found the cute little cafe in June. We were staying a half mile down the road, at Rock Wood Motor Court.
If you're going to stay in a retro motel (that used to be a Route 66 gas station) you have to complete the adventure with a breakfast at the College Street Cafe.
It was just before 8 when we arrived.
There were 3 tables and one booth open. We took the booth near the door and I had a nice view of the whole cafe.
My seat gave me a good view of the 4 sitting at the corner of the rounded counter.
The men looked like they were about ready to head to work. They had to be a little careful coming and going, since a couple hanging flower baskets were squeezed in behind them.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
On the wall behind the counter, I recognized the old print, with James, Humphrey, Marilyn and Elvis.
I sort of wanted to ask the 3 men and 1 woman to shift themselves around a bit, so they would better match the framed print. I'm not sure how that would have gone over.
The window next to our table didn't have the best view.
But I loved studying the steel framed windows. Is that steel? Don't know, but I sure wondered how many layers of paint was coating that metal. I love red paint.
Kim and Coffee
The place was starting to get busier, but Kim didn't ignore us. She rushed over in her black hat and air purifying necklace and took our order.
When she brought our coffee, I commented that she seemed to be handling the whole place herself. She shook her head and said, "I don't usually even work Fridays!" I had a feeling she'd been called in at the last minute. I had the feeling this wasn't the first time.
Taking a Seat
There was no doubt that Kim could handle the crowd. It seemed everyone knew her, which could have slowed her down with their banter.
I took a pic of Don to sneak a pic of Kim, when she took a load off for about 45 seconds. At one point, she greeted a man sitting alone, "So will it be pancakes or eggs, today?" She sat down in the seat across from him for only a moment.
Eat and Go
The workmen at the counter didn't linger long. They left without damaging any flowers.
A man came in wearing a shirt with lots to say and sat alone in the very last open table. I guessed he would eat and go. There were a couple of interesting shirts in the place. "Dirty White Guy" was written on another shirt. Hmmm.
Sit and Linger
This is a photo I took when we were getting ready to leave. It was pretty crowded by then.
The cafe seemed to be quite the hang out for men. The conversations were not confined to tables. Lots of chatter between. I had the feeling many of these folks came daily and probably lingered quite a while.
Don ordered the Early Bird Special (from 6-9) for $4.79.
I was wise and had a breakfast sandwich. Just the right amount for me.
I was there for the atmosphere more, than the food. But the food was pretty decent, especially for the price!
Don and I didn't try to blend in with the locals. We clearly were travelers taking up valuable space. But then suddenly Don asked me a question and that got us some attention.
"Where do you think we pay, Beth?" Before I could answer Don, a number of nearby diners chimed in. Suddenly everyone wanted to show us where to pay and then the chatter began. I made some comment about how well Kim handled handled this crowd and a few of them made some teasing comments that I won't repeat. Another 2 men came in looking for a seat and I offered up our table. They were more than pleased.
The men happily slid into our booth while Don got up to pay Kim in the back. The men chit chatted while I waited for Don. I told them I just had to get a photo of the screened door just steps from their booth.
Ralph (not wearing a hat) thought that was pretty funny that I was taking a photo of the door. He offered to take a photo of Don and me. I said I'd rather have a photo of them. Click! They laughed, as the photo shows.
Posing at College Street Cafe
Don returned after paying Kim and Ralph jumped up to decide where to take our picture. I'm pretty sure every person in the cafe was taking note.
We decided to pose outside, so one guy from the kitchen rushed over to grab one of the hanging baskets from the floor. He made sure the flowers were hanging from the awning, just in time for our photo.
What a fun little ending to our sweet little breakfast!
Father's Day Breakfast
So many of Don's 35 Father's Day celebrations, have been spent on the road.
This year, we woke up on Sunday morning in a small Arkansas town. Our grown kids were far away and there wasn't much happening in Mena, but we found a mighty fine diner to start the day.
We spotted The Skyline Diner, the day before.
It was a warm afternoon in June, when we arrived in Mena. We had a fun time wandering to town from our Airbnb. I've never seen such a quiet downtown, on a Saturday evening.
By dinnertime, we spotted the little cafe with a Closed sign on the door. It looked like our favorite kind of diner, with a red bench in front and a newspaper vending machine.
Skyline had closed at 2 that day, but if we'd been able to hold off for 11 hours, we could have enjoyed some eggs and coffee, when they opened in the morning!
We didn't arrive when the doors opened at 5:30 a.m.
But, we were there about 3 hours later. The sign said Open and there was no line out the door.
Dad Day Busy
Who knows if that morning was a typical Sunday at Skyline, but it was full. At 8:30 a.m., we could have been looking at the usual pre-church crowd. Or maybe all the dads in Mena chose Skyline breakfast over church, on Father's Day.
We were happy to wait for a table and enjoy some people watching.
While I studied the dining room, I sensed that we were the only non-locals in the restaurant.
Then, I studied the map by the cash register and realized travelers have come to Skyline, from places a lot further away than Texas! We didn't bother to add a pin.
There were so many old photographs in the cafe. I wanted to study them all. But that would have been awkward, leaning over folks, as they tried to eat their biscuits or omelets.
One table cleared and I dashed over to get a look at this old photo of Mena Street, from about 90 years ago. A man at a nearby table chuckled to see me take this photo.
Mena Street Today
I could spot the cafe and Mercantile, in the vintage photo. Mena Street looked similar in 2021, except fewer cars. In fact we saw no cars at all, on Saturday night.
I wish I'd spotted a photo of the cafe from 2009, when a tornado came through and destroyed much of the town. I didn't see a photo, but I saw a framed news clipping, telling how the town pulled together to rebuild the cafe.
Don and I were finally seated. I took a look at the menu cover, before checking out the food options. You know you're in a small town cafe, when you have to pay cash.
I wondered how many photos they went through, before they decided this one should be featured on their menu.
No Church Clothes
The diners in the cafe didn't seem to be dressed in church clothes or motorcycle clothes. It was a casual crowd that kept the 3 servers very busy. Too busy for my small talk or silly questions.
What would I have asked a server or diner, if I'd had the nerve to interrupt? Maybe I would have asked, "How many times would you guess that you've eaten in this cafe?" If I'd added up the answers, I'm guessing it would be 1,000.
I read this little sign, back near the kitchen.
I'm guessing this was a little joke. But who knows. It's hard to tell.
This Old Dad had one of his favorite breakfasts.
He had an omelet and taters and a big slice of ham. No it was not the best breakfast in all the world, but he was quite satisfied.
I don't love grits or gravy, but I always feel like I have to order them when I'm in a small town cafe at breakfast. Again, it wasn't the best breakfast ever, but I appreciated the simplicity of my plate. Look at that nice little oval plate with all those round things.
Our check arrived and I had to smile. Two breakfasts for less than $10!
Well, we didn't get coffee for 75 cents like the sign said. Oh well.
We were headed towards the door by 9:30. Would this go down as a memorable Father's Day breakfast adventure? Would I remember this place at all in 10 years?
I guess I can't call it an adventure when we didn't have a good chat with a stranger. We didn't try any daring foods. We didn't see any outlandish decor or happenings. But we had a meal at a cafe that survived the Great Depression. It narrowly survived a tornado. The cafe also survived the pandemic. So for that I offer, "3 Cheers for Skyline Cafe!"
Serving Chili, since 1909
I've been visiting relatives in Springfield, since I was a baby, but I've never heard anyone mention Casper's.
After reading about the curious quonset hut diner in an article, I knew we'd have to check it out on our next visit.
In June, Don and I headed from Texas to Missouri, to visit my dad. We made it to Springfield by noon and Dad said he was game for a Casper's Adventure.
We 3 were vaccinated, but I still called ahead to see if Casper's was crowded. Marcie answered and encouraged us to come. The lunch crowd had passed.
We stepped inside and all 3 grinned. The atmosphere was as entertaining as I'd hoped.
The blue, orange and red colored surfaces, were covered with aged posters, framed photos and art.
There were endless treasures, displayed on shelves. I spotted a hanging moon mobile and exotic masks on the wall, near the kitchen.
Where to Sit?
A couple of dangling marionettes, hung near the only guest, dining at the counter. He must have been a regular, since he was studying his phone instead of the whimsical decor.
There were enough colorful stools and booths to seat about 30. I told Dad to decide where we should sit.
He turned down the lollipop stools and chose a table with a view of the brick building next door.
I read somewhere that when Casper's gets overly crowded, some locals will welcome others to join them at their table.
Table sharing can make for a unique dining experience for sure. But I was glad to have the diner mostly to ourselves. We're still navigating this pandemic world.
Marcie & Menus
Marcie greeted us and placed paper menus on the table. She was one of those rare people who communicates well, (with voice and expression) while wearing a mask. Her cheery disposition, did not match the bold reminder, "Eat, Pay, Tip, Get Out"
I opened the menu to lots of options. We could buy chili by the cup or gallon. We could have chili on hotdogs, hamburgers, spaghetti or Fritos. The back page shared a little history. Oh, how I appreciate a little shared history!
Some photos on the wall, shared glimpses of Casper's past. It was a man named Casper, who began the business as a fruit seller, in 1909. His biz evolved into a restaurant, which he later moved to a quonset hut on Glenstone Avenue, in 1948. He's shown in the first pic, folding his arms.
Not sure if that's Casper in the second photo, with a beard and folded arms. It could be Casper's son, who took over in 1966. Casper died in 1985, the same year Casper's moved to this location.
The place was so comfortably small, that Marcie didn't really need to come to our table to take our order. She could keep up a converstaion with us, from behind the counter or near the kitchen.
But she came over with her pad anyway. She was excited to give us all sorts of suggestions. At one point her phone rang and she politely asked if she could answer. (She needed to chat with her daughter, because they were selling her mom's house) Marcie was so comfortable talking to us, along with her daughter, I half expected her to hand over the phone so we could say hello.
Crackers, Beer and Chili
When Dad said he wanted a beer, Marcie hollered back to the kitchen, "We'll need a Miller High Life here!" She alerted the guy in the kitchen as if he were a bar tender, ready to make an exotic drink. A minute later, she brought the beer to dad in an icy can.
Dad and I ordered chili. Right away, Marcie brought us saltines, in what appeared to be a frisbee. That amused me. Then when the chili arrive, I laughed.
I had read about Casper's chili, so I knew it would come on a saucer, to catch the extra spoonful... that spills over the edge. But it was funny to see the messy dish.
The chili was made from a secret recipe, from 1909. It was tasty and a cup was more than enough. Marcie talked Don into the double burger. It was smashed and grilled, on the same grill that was used in their original location.
I love an entertaining restroom, but I've been sort of avoiding them during the pandemic. Marcie told me I should NOT miss a visit, so she opened the door so I could have a peek.
Marcie seemed pretty delighted that I showed proper enthusiasm. Shelves of coconut heads. What's not to like?
A Few More Guests
While we dined, a few more guests entered and ate at the counter. Marcie seemed to make it her job to connect us all. She told one man how good the burgers were and pointed to Don, so he could throw in his review of his burger.
She laughed with us that she'd had us figured out as Subaru drivers, when we walked in the place. Not exactly sure what that means, but she seemed pretty pleased with herself after she peeked out the window and saw a Subaru with Texas plates. She knew she was right. Then as Marcie checked us out, she paid a more obvious compliment, when she raved about Don's space-themed shirt. We liked Marcie a lot.
Fun and Tasty Visit
I had expected an intimidating visit with no nonsense service. I thought we might feel out of place.
Our visit turned out to be better than I expected. The building itself was pretty darn memorable. The food was pretty good too.
Most of all, I think I'll remember Marcie's good humor and energy. I was particularly delighted to be called Pumpkin a couple times. I'm not sure when I was last called Pumpkin. Marcie was so comfortable in her usage, that I thought I must have heard wrong. The second time I laughed. "Did you call me Pumpkin?" She said "Yep." or some quick answer.
What a fun place!
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.