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!
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.