There are no strangers at Evans Cafe
Walsh takes an order from Don and Edna Littrell of Wheeling, two
of the many regulars at Evans Cafe in Meadville. Edna says all
the meals at this north Missouri diner are served “with a
lot of love.”
When a tornado took
the roof off of Evans Cafe last summer patrons of the Meadville restaurant
worried that it might close. “One man woke up in the middle of
the night because he thought, ‘What if Evans doesn’t reopen,’” says
Edna Litrell of Wheeling. “Another woman said, ‘Where will
I get my hugs?’”
More than just a
great place to eat, Evans Cafe is a social center for the regulars
like Edna and her husband, Bob, who gather there for lunch. Anyone
else might enter as a stranger, but they will leave as friends.
A day at Evans Cafe,
which is served by Farmers’ Electric Cooperative, begins at 7
a.m. when owner Marylyn Evans and her sister, Cindy, arrive. By 8:30
the rest of the “girls,” as Marylyn calls the group of
three good friends who help with the cooking, shows up and the little
1930s diner hums like a beehive.
cooking. Daily specials include roast beef, pork chops, lasagna,
spaghetti and, on Fridays, fried chicken. Meals served with
homemade rolls. Other specialties include a huge selection
of fresh pies, made-from-scratch onion rings and hand-breaded
specials are $5 plus tax, drink included. Menu items vary.
for lunch only from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
cards: Not accepted. Cash only.
Highway 36 to the Meadville junction with Route W and Highway
139 North. The cafe is on the south side of Highway 36.
Cafe is a no-smoking restaurant.
Like an orchestra
where each part contributes to the whole, the workers pull pies from
the oven, slice pieces for individual servings, mash many pounds of
real potatoes, bake the rolls, whip up the daily specials and have
it all ready when the first customers walk through the door at 10:30
So efficient is the
staff in the little kitchen that when Marylyn leans against the wall
for a quick rest, a cup of coffee is already waiting for her.
As the first guests
arrive they are greeted by name, and Marylyn disengages herself from
the hubbub in the kitchen to give each guest a hug. “Everyone
gets a hug, if they want one,” says Marylyn with a smile. Some
ask for two.
do we have a crabby person in here,” she says. “If we do
we try to work them over. We have the best customers. They are fun
Evans Cafe could
be called “north Missouri’s Cheers.” The cafe, located
on the south side of Highway 36 at the Meadville junction, was built
in 1933 as a roadside garage and cafe.
Marylyn and her husband,
David, bought the historic building six years ago. While Marylyn put
her efforts into the cafe, David runs an alternator and starter repair
shop next door.
everyone here,” Marylyn says. “Everyone is concerned about
everyone’s health. This is a real personal place.”
serves up old-fashioned country cooking at her Evans Cafe near
While there are one
or two tables that seat two people, most are set up for groups. “The
cafe has no booths, only tables and chairs,” says Don Dupy, a
“Some of the
tables are the large communal type that seat as many as 10 people.
If you choose to sit at one of these large tables, be prepared for
someone you may not know to come and sit next to you. It won’t
be long before you know each other’s pedigree.”
He warns that many
of the regulars come armed with pictures of their grandchildren, and
the only defense is to have some of your own.
Even if the food
wasn’t good those who frequent Evans Cafe would most likely gather
here on the four days a week it’s open for lunch. But the fact
is, the food is excellent.
customers have made Evans Cafe the "Cheers" of northwest
Country cooking is
the place’s specialty, meaning roast beef so tender it falls
apart on its own, turkey and noodles, creamy mashed potatoes with lots
of gravy, light dinner rolls made on the premises, and just about every
kind of pie you could want.
Every day a dry erase
board is lettered with the daily special, which might be spaghetti,
lasagna or pork chops served with a choice of cole slaw or apple salad.
On Fridays the place fills to capacity for the fried chicken.
For those who want
to order off the menu, the cafe offers hand-breaded tenderloin sandwiches
and hand-battered onion rings. In the winter months they serve soups
never had a bad thing to eat here,” says Dee Johnson of Brookfield. “Everyone
from our town comes here. There isn’t any other place like this
Adds Edna, “A
lot of love is served with the food.”