I have been thinning out the considerable number of books I picked up over my traveling years by taking them up to the Club House for someone else to enjoy. It has always been fun buying books about local interests. I was about to toss one but as so often happens, I looked at the cover long enough to stir up old memories.
Many years ago, quite by accident, I stopped at the original Lambert’s Cafe in Sikeston, MO. Don’t remember it? Maybe all the billboards leading to it might ring a bell. They informed me of Lambert’s Home of Throwed Rolls! I had never heard of it before but the thought intrigued me and why exactly was I full-time RVing if not for one adventure or another. I stopped and it was. I’m actually remembering it with drool hanging from my lips. I ordered the usual hamburger but that certainly wasn’t all I got.
While I waited for my order, the wait staff was busy bringing these huge bowls or buckets of all kinds of food called pass arounds from white beans to fried potatoes and onions to something I have never had a hankering for, fried okra, but I tried them in honor of my Virginia son-in-law. They brought servings of black-eyed peas and macaroni and tomatoes, and about that time, I realized there were rolls flying through the air. They were big, accurately thrown, and if you were lucky as I was, you received a dip of sorghum molasses or apple butter to sweeten the process. And all you could swill of whatever you ordered in a large variety of drinks.
They are also famous for their homestyle cooking. My hamburger was huge, delicious, and looked like it came right out of somebody’s home kitchen. On top of all the pass arounds and throwed rolls I pigged out on, they wanted to know what I wanted for dessert! Dessert? I could barely pull myself out of the booth. You definitely should you go there for the experience but be sure you are in a state of near starvation.
The original cafe in Sikeston, MO, was in a small building that had a nine-stool counter, eight tables, and a seating capacity for 41 customers. Earl and Agnes Lambert opened this tiny cafe in March of 1942. Their becoming famous was one of those serendipitous things that occasionally happen to good people, but it took until 1976 before that happened, and it came about during the reign of the second generation of Lamberts, Norman and Patti. It was Norman’s custom to walk around and hand out dinner rolls. One day he was so busy, he just wasn’t getting around fast enough with those rolls and somebody yelled, “Throw the dang thing!” and he did. The rest is history. Norman also made it a policy for people in wheelchairs. He said, “If you bring your own chair, you eat free.”
That was the beginning. They have grown and moved and grown and moved and their satisfied customers still groan and barely move. Now there are also Lambert’s Cafes in Ozark, MO and Foley, AL (I visited that one, too,) and they’ve grown just a little in size. They just celebrated their 70th anniversary in 2012.
Just for a couple of their statistics, they toss around 520 dozen rolls per day and their grand total is 2,246,400 individual rolls. That’s a lotta dough!!! I can’t believe that in 2012 alone, they cooked and fried 73,400 pounds of Arkansas okra. Yuck! (That’s a personal opinion, of course). They claim that annually, drinking, cooking and baking takes 15,900 gallons of milk and it keeps 17 cows busy working night and day to supply it! I am as fascinated with their statistics as their restaurant habits.
If you happen to be in their part of the country, you’ll have to take your chances of getting in. They don’t take reservations. They also don’t take credit cards but you can pay by check. I’m hungry. God Bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is now available at most Internet book sites and the fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”