by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
I wish I could tell you who these people are and I wish I could tell you when this photograph was taken. I do remember the old café in downtown Grain Valley. Today this building is the pottery shop on the west side of
Main Street, but until the mid 1950s it was a restaurant.
The photo is probably a family; Dad, Mom, a married son with his wife and daughter. Then there is grandma, and perhaps another daughter. From the clothing, I’m guessing the pictured might have been snapped sometime in the early 1940s. By the late 1940s ,the sign on the window on the left side of the building read United States Post Office.
Before I entered first grade, I ate there often on days when my mother was working across the street at the hardware store. The restaurant was run by Mrs. Greer, and also by Mrs. Grace Michael. They served fried chicken on Sunday, complete with mashed potatoes and gravy, and probably green beans. It was good home cooking and every day there was a “special.” Hot beef sandwiches, ham & beans, vegetable beef soup, and goulash were some of the specials I remember.
In the summer, when tomatoes were ripe, there were BLTs and Ham & Cheese sandwiches. And pie. There were always homemade pies.
I only remember the restaurant being opened at noon time. I can’t say if it was opened past 3:00pm., but I don’t think so. I remember it being filled with people at noontime. I think all of the downtown merchants ate there.
After all, where else could you get a hamburger for 25 cents, the daily special for $1.50, or pie for a quarter. And a bottomless cup of coffee was still just 5 cents!
The lunch counter was at the rear and a few tables occupied the space in front by the windows. One day the man sitting next to me at the counter ordered shoofly pie. I could not imagine how flies could possibly be good in a pie. Then he told the waitress she could just get some flies over there and pointed to a fly strip near the door into the kitchen.
Everyone sitting around us had a big laugh! My mother explained that he was kidding and he was ordering raisin cream pie, one of Mrs. Greer’s specialties. To this day, I have never tried shoefly pie.
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An undated photo of the Grain Valley Café, located on the west side of Main Street until the mid-1950’s.
Photo credit: Grain Valley Historical Society