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
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
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