The Rock Cafe - Stroud, OK
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Team Farkle 7
N 35° 44.936 W 096° 39.262
14S E 712093 N 3958638
Quick Description: So you want proof Radiator Springs exists?!!
Location: Oklahoma, United States
Date Posted: 7/1/2007 3:46:51 PM
Waymark Code: WM1RFK
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member TravisGood
Views: 158

Long Description:
Only the restaurant’s stone walls were still standing. This news hit us like a sucker punch. The good news is Dawn and her family plan to rebuild. There is a website for a fund for what's not covered by insurance. Link

The Rock Cafe is owned and operated by Dawn Welch and her family. Dawn is the inspiration for the character "Sally Carrera" in the movie "Cars" put out by Pixar in 2006.

Dawn was a cruise director about to move to Costa Rica, when she learned she inherited land from her grandmother in Oklahoma. She went to check out the parcel and decided to stay.

The history of the Rock Cafe:
The Rock Cafe opened in Stroud, Oklahoma in 1939. Often times confused with the Hard Rock Cafe, the Rock Cafe was serving meals long before rock was "hard". It had been through the Second World War whereas the Hard Rock Cafe was an afterthought of some American GI's who decided to remain in England after the War and serve hamburgers, an American Fad that was here to stay. A Fad that the Rock Cafe had already been serving for nearly seven years.

The Rock Cafe was the inspiration of an older man named Roy Rieves who started the project as his retirement income. Roy was a local man whose family was recovering from the Great Depression. He was raised knowing the value of land and the hard work it took to acquire money to buy land. Becoming knowledgeable in construction, the art of building a sturdy structure fascinated Roy Rieves.

After saving his money, Roy was able buy 61/2 business lots skirting the city limits of Stroud, Oklahoma for $100 in April of 1936. At the time, Route 66 was finishing pavement in a nationwide effort to connect the east coast to the west coast. Business was booming along the highway. Considering this, Roy planned to construct the cafe on his lot that sat directly on the new highway. The project took three years to complete. Roy worked single-handedly most of the time, only hiring young men to help with moving heavy rocks. The rocks used were ones removed while carving Route 66 through Kellyville. Roy paid only five dollars for the Rock. The foundation is concrete and was hand mixed, load-by-load, in a wheelbarrow. The building is one-story, although when built high ceilings were in fashion, which explains the height of the building. The doors of the cafe were built on the East and West sides and the bathroom was within the square building, but with a door located outside portraying the idea of an out house. There was also a back door in the kitchen.

Once finished the Rock Cafe was a beautiful building. Although proud of his work, Roy never intended to operate the cafe himself. The first proprietress, Miss Thelma Holloway, opened the cafe on August 4, 1939. The Rock was an instant success, serving the traveling public. The cafe became a bus stop for Greyhound. During World War II, the cafe fed many men heading for or coming home from the war. Their hoots and hollers are fond memories for many old timers. Many a young man would meet his girlfriend here before leaving for the war. It became a popular place for high school students to meet and truckers to stop for a meal and rest. When the war was over it also became a popular place for families to stop while on vacations. At times the gas and electricity would go out and the fireplace was used to cook hamburgers and stew. It was also a hiding spot for cash, with bills often hidden behind loose bricks.

Unfortunately, Segregation was a long-standing practice at the time and one the cafe was unable to avoid. Black customers had to go to the back door (in the kitchen) to order their meals and then sit outside and eat. A time in history Americans can't be proud of.

One thing that was never permanent at the Rock was management. Roy never sold the building, but his tenants never stayed to operate the Rock Cafe for long. It changed management every two or three years until 1959. When Mamie Mayfield opened the Rock Cafe under her management in 1959, she made a lifetime commitment to the Rock. With three grown children, and two small ones at home, Mamie and her family lived next door to the Rock and rented the building from Mr. Rieves for $80.00 a month. Amazingly, Mamie kept the cafe open 24 hours a day. She was often the sole parent in raising her children, yet still made time to comfort lost souls who found their way into the cafe. Truckers from coast to coast knew of Mamie and the Rock Cafe. In the days before CB's, pagers, voice mail, and cell phones truckers could pull into the Rock and receive their messages. If a wife needed to get in touch with her traveling husband she could call a message into the Rock and it would be faithfully pinned to the wall to wait his arrival.

Local boys often brought the young women they were courting to the Rock Cafe to play sweet songs on the tabletop jukeboxes. Mamie would even let the students push the jukebox to the window and dance outside. She operated the cafe until 1983 and saw many changes throughout the years. Roy had often times offered to sell the Rock to Mamie, but she would never take him up on her offer. He even wrote out a will leaving the Rock Cafe to her should he die. Mamies heart and soul belonged to the Rock, but in the early 80's business declined so badly that Mamie chose to close the Rock Cafe. One reason she closed was her health, she was nearing 70 by then, another was the Turner Turnpike, a new strip of highway, that bypassed the town altogether. On the day Mamie closed the cafe, the Blue Plate Special $2.50, the highest it had ever been period.

The Rock Cafe has seen the tears of wars, the cruelty of segregation, the oil bust of the 70's and has stood strong during the Depression and the revival of Route 66, becoming part and parcel of the lore of the Mother Road.

This was our favorite stop on the entire trip. I lost track of how many times we ate there, at least twice west bound and twice again east bound. When it was time for us to go for the final time our son didn't want to leave, he was having way too much fun with Dawn's children.

As we were heading out the door the Vice-Mayor, a regular at the Rock, said to me, "Ya know, I got six acres for sale right here on the route." We left with me imagining making "Sarge's Surplus" a reality. It would be the only military surplus store with Daisies in the rifles and parking reserved for Bob Waldmire, the real Fillmore.

The Rock Cafe is a MUST STOP on a trip down Route 66.
Dawn's hospitality is second to none.

Americana: Restaurant

Significant Interest: Other Icon

Milestone or Marker: Other Icon

Web Site Address: [Web Link]

Address of Icon:
114 West Main Street
Stroud, OK USA

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