The Steak House in my hometown
of Richland was not only a landmark for the northern traveling snowbirds
migrating to and from Florida, it was a place where the local residents
gathered and enjoyed a truly home-cooked meal or a bottomless cup of
coffee and of course, a slice of homemade icebox lemon pie. Mrs. Maude
Gunnels cooked various kinds of cakes, fruit pies and pecan pie, but the
most remembered by my acquaintances is the lemon offering.
For the comfort and pleasure of
the patrons there were large booths and plenty of tables and padded
bottom chairs. Situated in the back of the restaurant there was a
private dining area that could be reserved for bridal showers, birthday
parties and family get-togethers. On the weekends the room became a
clandestine waiting area for the sometimes boisterous patrons.
On Friday and Saturday evenings
the café was packed full of noisy teenagers enjoying a hamburger, home
fries, and soft drinks which they purchased for a whopping "42
CENTS" while they caught up on who was in love with whomever, at
school. Substantial amounts of quarters were fed into the brightly
lighted jukebox; for a dollar you could play ten popular top tunes.
Aunt Nadine, the manager and
owner, insisted that the volume on the "Rock-ola" stay low until the
guests and locals finished supper and departed the premises. After
attending area basketball games, the place filled to overflowing with
lively youngster who ordered late night snacks and visited from table to
table. My first time of enjoying a honeybun that was brushed with
butter and heated to perfection was at the Steak House Restaurant; for
more essence try adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
One of the favorite menu items
was a scrambled dog; it was served on a specially designed china plate
that was oblong and shallow, and just the right size for the
presentation. The hotdog bun was opened, and a red skinned wiener was
smothered with chili, sprinkled with oyster crackers and topped with
dill-pickle slices. A garnish of mustard and ketchup was all it needed
to be perfect, but some diners ordered chopped onions and other toppings
to complete the epicurean experience.
I am proud to have inherited
three of those special platters for scrambled dogs from Otto's mother,
Myrtle, who worked at the Steak House for countless years; she taught me
how to duplicate the recipe at home and it is a favorite entree of
Joshua, Catherine, Caleb and Christen, our teenage grandchildren.
In the third iteration, we will
remember the fresh vegetables that were served daily at the Steak House
Restaurant in Richland, and salute the friendly people who cheerfully
served the hungry guests.