Note: This is a continuation of introductions of “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants in the Springfield area. My favorites, and I hope yours, are listed on Google Maps here.
Today is mid-week, mid-March, and the Inn is slow. Dan and I were headed to lunch, but a last minute change left me solo. I had already passed on the responsibilities of the Inn to Jessica, so I struck out alone. Barbecue pork from Pappy’s Place immediately came to mind, so off I went!
Pappy’s has been there pretty much unchanged since 1971. Paul Ankrom, with his wife Dorothy, owned and operated Pappy’s through 1978. I was in and out of college during those years, and would slip in to Pappy’s with friends and family for pork ribs when we could afford it; if not, just a cold, cheap beer, and a place to complain about our professors. In 1996, after being gone for 15 years chasing the corporate dream, we moved back to town to purchase the Walnut Street Inn. After a few years back in town, I wandered over to Pappy’s and found it not only still open, but it exactly the same!
Well, not exactly the same, the pay phone used to hang on the south wall, right over a table. If you were sitting at that table when someone needed to use the phone (this was well before cell phones), they would have to lean over your table across your food to reach the phone. Needless to say you were involved in the conversation whether you wanted to be or not! When I walked in, I immediately noticed the phone was gone and said to the bartender, “Hey! You moved the phone!” She looked at me like I was crazy and after a minute of thought, said “Well, yeah, we did… 20 YEARS AGO!”
Pappy’s is no bigger than your living room and often is full of the best and worst of society. Frequently, a blue haze of cigarette smoke hangs over the bar. It is small enough, and serves enough liquor to be exempt from our current smoking ban (that may change on April 5th when we vote again.) If you are like me, it is hard to sit and enjoy a meal if patrons at the tables around you are smoking, but this is one place I will put up with it to be able to reminisce, complain about the students, eat great barbecue, and drink cheap beer.
At one time in this part of the country, most bars and cafes were like Pappy’s. Now, this is one of the few remaining and should not be missed if you are a connoisseur of nostalgia. One thing to look out for if you sit at the bar is you may be taking the seat of a “regular” who comes in every day after work, so if a thirsty local is staring at you, don’t take it personally, just get up and move!
What should you have to eat? Well, I would recommend the smoked pork sandwich with gold BBQ sauce, served with half a plate of crinkle cut fries. I forgo the customary ketchup for the fries and go straight for the sweet red Pappy’s BBQ sauce as a dip. Or if you are really hungry, choose a large order of meaty pork ribs with two sides (baked beans and coleslaw for me) and bread (nothing but white.) I find the pork sandwich with the gold BBQ sauce is enhanced with a dollop of the regular red BBQ sauce squirted on each bite. Neither of the sauces is hot, but the flavor is wonderful and they sell both by the pint ($4.95) or the gallon ($21.95) for those “jonesin” for some Pappy’s flavor at home. I have a jar in the Inn refrigerator right now and will stir up some Pappy’s BBQ hashbrown potatoes as a side dish to any breakfast entree if you will just ask!
Want to know more before plunking down your hard earned $7 bucks for lunch? Well, they don’t have a website (those are not available in the early 70’s where this place stays) but you can see a bit more, and read the reviews at Urbanspoon.
On the front of their menu it says “Welcome to Pappy’s Place: It aint much, but we call it home. Where the beer is cold, the food superb, and the company divine.”
On the back of the menu is a paragraph that says “Happy Hacker Day! - Jim Hacker, the local hero here at Pappy’s. Doctors predicted him a goner in the late 70’s; Jim proved them wrong. Mr. Hacker came to Pappy’s 6 days a week for over 13 years. Jim passed on in the summer of ’93. We celebrate Jim every day and every year Hacker Day is December 23.”
I think that sums up who and what Pappy’s Place is. I hope it speaks to you as it always speaks to me.
You can find Pappy’s Cafe at 943 N Main, Springfield, Missouri. There (relocated) phone can be called at 417-866-8744.
Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut StreetSpringfield, MO 65806