A Piece Of Americana Dies

A “CLOSED” SIGN at the Ozark Cafe on Washington Avenue is a rare sight, but it was necessary beginning Thursday with the illness then death of long-time proprietor Virgil Gabel. Gabel’s wife, Noma, locks the cafe doors Sunday afternoon after taking care of some business and placing a sign on the door detailing information of her husband’s funeral. Services were this afternoon at the First Church of God. Noma said she is unsure if the popular eating establishment will reopen.

Fate of famous cafe in doubt

A well-known West Plains restaurateur who fed thousands of hungry customers for nearly 60 years died Saturday and was laid to rest today, and it is unclear if the Ozark Cafe on Washington Avenue will reopen. Noma Gabel, wife of Virgil Gabel for 61 years, told The Quill it is questionable as to whether the business will reopen. “We were hoping to keep the cafe open until May, then we could have celebrated our 60th anniversary,” Noma said. The cafe began operations in May of 1946. She said that if the cafe does not reopen she hopes to have a farewell event featuring pie and coffee. “I’ll know more later and let you know,” she told The Quill. (West Plains Daily Quill)

This isn't really about Odd Fellowship, but it is... In West Plains we have been fortunate to have a real old-time cafe downtown, up until now. Several of our lodge members were regulars there, and I'm sure even more were years ago. It is just sad to see parts of our history die. It was almost a club, to be an Ozark Cafe customer. It was a bond, that you can't explain to those who go to all those cookie-cutter franchises that have no personality. We knew the owners, and it was an ongoing story of everyday life. The food wasn't gourmet, the service often left something to be desired, the waits could make one anxious--but we knew it was a tradition, a place to feel at home, something that wouldn't last forever. The owners hung on till the very last, literally till death. I wonder how many more of these type of establishments are left in America?


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