Hannibal News

Mark Twain Dinette celebrates 75 years in business

Andrea Hunt looks at newspaper clippings Thursday, Feb. 2, at the Mark Twain Dinette in Hannibal, Mo., from when it opened in 1942 and its 25th and 50th anniversaries. The dinette put up the newspaper clippings and photos as decorations to celebrate its 75th anniversary. It also sold Maid-Rites for $1.25 on Thursday. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 2, 2017 7:05 pm Updated: Feb. 3, 2017 8:29 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Loren Allensworth visits the Mark Twain Dinette every day for one of the restaurant's breakfast specials -- usually eggs over medium, bacon and toast -- and a lunch of original Maid-Rite sandwiches.

Allensworth has been visiting the dinette at 400 N. Third St. since he was a youngster and the building "was just an itty-bitty thing" -- just a few stools at the counter and no restrooms.

"When I was a kid, I'd come and get a Maid-Rite, especially after a ballgame," Allensworth said. "It's reasonably priced."

Only in the last 15 years has he made dining at the establishment a near-daily activity. Having the Mark Twain Dinette shutter is something Allensworth never contemplated, and neither have many other patrons. For restaurant staff, it's a possibility they don't anticipate happening.

The restaurant celebrated its 75th anniversary Thursday with reduced-price Maid-Rite sandwiches, future-use coupons, a merchandise sale and sweepstakes.

"We've been getting a lot of call-ins and takeouts today," general manager Kenna Bogue said. "At 10:30 this morning we got a call for 30 Maid-Rites to go."

Despite its long run, the Mark Twain Dinette almost closed in 2014, when Bogue's grandfather no longer wanted to run the business. She mulled the news for two months and talked with her father, Jody, about what to do.

"My dad and I were like, 'No, we can't end this tradition,' " Bogue said. "I just didn't want to see it close. I've never thought of the dinette closing."

Jody Bogue bought the restaurant from his father, John, and took ownership in spring 2015. Kenna Bogue, 25, intends to buy the restaurant from her father in the future.

The dinette has been open since 1942, and the Bogue family has been preparing throughout the last year for the 75th anniversary by modernizing and redecorating the building. The most notable changes include removing wallpaper in one dining room and repainting the walls in the other. They've also been framing old restaurant menus, advertisements and photos unearthed from their office to decorate the walls.

"We've been working hard to get everything ready. A lot of locals come, so they are able to see the old memorabilia," Kenna Bogue said. "We knew people needed to see these things."

The local patrons and longtime fans of the food are credited for the restaurant's success.

"We've built these relationships for 75 years," Bogue said.

"Part of the reason it's been here for so long is that people from all over keep coming back," waitress Alicia Davis added. "I love the tradition and hearing from people who haven't been here in 20 years say the Maid-Rite is still as good as they remember."

Things to Do