Dexter’s Corner Stop Cafe

I’ve spent the past two days trying to find some folks I shot in New Madrid 44 years ago. It’s a long, hot story that we’ll cover later. My quest today took me to Sikeston, which isn’t far from Dexter. I managed to convince Mother that riding around with me was more fun that mowing the lawn when the heat index is 114 (she was mowing the lawn, not me). This is a mowing photo taken several years ago in Dutchtown to show her style.

Madeline DeJournett, Advance reporter and avid reader of this blog, has been touting a new restaurant in Dexter called the Mediterranean Steak House “on Locust, south of the Ben Franklin store.” That’s the way you give directions when you live in a small town. There’s no way to enter that in my GPS, so we got quite a tour of Dexter.

Dexter provided an education

I remember Dexter well. Jim Kirkwood and I got to help build Hwy 60 going through the town the summer that our two dads, L.V. Steinhoff and James Kirkwood of Steinhoff & Kirkwood, decided that we should learn the value of education. They wanted to get us smart enough NOT to do what they did for a living. I kept looking for a landmark that would help me find the stretch of road we helped pour, but it’s changed a lot.

Anyway, at 33 minutes past Hungry o’clock, we pulled up in front of the steak house. It was closed on Monday. We went back to the main drag and passed predictable fast food joints.

Corner Stop Cafe

I thought I remembered see a small local diner just up the street from the steak house, so we headed back down Locust, past the Ben Franklin store, until we came to the Corner Stop Cafe. There were a few cars around it, it looked clean and it looked new, so we decided to give it a shot.

As soon as we opened the door, I felt right at home: a voice said, “Watch your step.” I’ve been getting that advice for years, but then I looked down and saw that you had to step down to get into the restaurant. We apologized for showing up at closing time, but our server, who turned out to be the owner, was gracious. I asked for advice and Phyllis Kull said that she sells about 500 of their “Nothing Like It Chicken” a week, so it must be good.

The menu described it as “Chicken salad, cranberry, smoked Gouda cheese and Granny Smith apples slices, served on Texas toast.” All of that, plus a side (some great potato salad) for six bucks. My foodie friend, Jan Norris would have taken a photo of the plate, but I had more important things in mind – finishing it off so I could have some strawberry pie. Mother had a bacon quiche (hold the bacon) with toast and a generous serving of fresh fruit. They forgot to hold the bacon, but it was served on top, so I got it and pronounced it excellent.

I apologize to Phyllis for sticking her outside where the lighting was so harsh. She’s much more attractive than the picture would lead you to believe.

Mural done by local artist

The inside of the cafe is attractive, without being cutesy. The mural, a work in progress, is being done by a local artist. Phyllis is from Colorado. Her husband, Alan, has family in the area, so they wanted to move closer to them. They opened the place March 16, 2010, and have been doing well. “Dexter is a great community. We’ve been blessed.” One of the customers when we walked in was the mayor, she said.

I normally avoid sweet tea, but they had it just right. After being out in the hot sun, I downed three glasses of it. I told Phyllis that I had been shooting in a church in New Madrid Sunday when it was equally as hot. “When the preacher started talking about hell, fire and brimstone,” I said, “I jumped to my feet and shouted, ‘Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us some relief.’ At first I thought I might not have that testifying thing figured out exactly right, but an old man in the back row hollered, ‘AMEN,’ so I guess I did OK.”

Mother, who normally takes everything with a grain of salt, looked at me in horror and said, “You DIDN’T?” For once, I couldn’t milk it for all it was worth. I had to tell her I was kidding.

How was the pie?

I ordered the strawberry and Mother had the blackberry. They used fresh fruit, but the filling was a Jello-style that I’m not really fond of. It was good, but not my favorite. Of the two, I liked the blackberry better. The actual, non-Madeline-style address is 5 South Locust, Dexter, Mo.

I’m not sorry the steak house was closed. This place is a great find: good food in good quantities, served by some nice people. I sure wish they were in Cape and West Palm Beach.

9 Replies to “Dexter’s Corner Stop Cafe”

  1. Hi Ken,it’s been along time since I’ve been to Dexter but The Corner Stop Cafe sounds like a unique place to eat. And I laughed, the going to Church story,..hilarious,I could just see your Mothers face! I may not comment on all of your articles but read them all and enjoy every one of them!

  2. Well another day in the life of a seasoned journalist…enjoying far away lands, meeting exotic foods and people all in one day. Nice to let your MOM mow the lawn on a hot day, with her one arm. 114 degress is not bad in Cape…Heck no, ” it’s wet heat” so not to worry!

  3. Okay, okay, Ken! I didn’t know that the steak house was closed on Mondays until I went there after church on Sunday–and my earlier post didn’t include that news. I forgot that Dexter is mostly closed on Mondays, anyway. It seems to be a local tradition that I’ve been frustrated by in earlier years. The local fish place–Fiddler’s–is closed then, too. I guess if places stay open on Sunday, they figure that Monday is fair game.
    I love that you did this feature on the Corner Cafe. I think i did one on my Daily Statesman blog some time back. It is the sweetest place! We haven’t been back since they started the mural, so I’ll make a point to go, write up a review for my blog, and post a link to yours. There, are you happy?
    Still, dear wild & crazy blogger extraordinaire, do try to make it back to the steak house. I have never seen such spiced olives as they had on the buffet Sunday! The owner is an Arab–would you believe? You know me–when I hear an accent, I have to know where it originated! So, of course, I asked. The are very accommodating, and he wasn’t offended. Dexter is becoming more cosmopolitan every day!

  4. We are huge fans of the down home type restaurants. We try to avoid plastic land (franchises) like the plague. When we moved to Melbourne, FL in 1964, all the good restaurants and all the beauty salons closed on Mondays. When we moved here to Ellijay, GA, Wednesdays were the day to be closed. Alas, more and more businesses are closed permanently now. I wonder if the Wednesday closings contributed to that.

  5. Ken, love your articles and especially the ones concerning food as I am a devotee and frequent participant in anything edible.
    My dear friend Madeline loves to take pictures as you know and frequently needs to be reminded in which state of the union pictures were taken. Now, I’m in trouble.

    1. J.D., do you think she’d understand geotagging? That’s where you make sure your GPS and your digital camera (and all of your electronic devices) are set to the same time.

      Then, you can match the date and time stamp of the photo to your GPS track. I have a program that will marry the track and the photo to an online mapping program that will let you see exactly where on the map you took the photo. Works out great for aerial photography.

      The concept is good, too, if you use a digital tape recorder. Want to know what question / comment caused an expression? Just match up the time stamps.

      I’ll let YOU teach her how to do all that stuff, though.

  6. Ken, I am so glad you wrote about my friends Allen and Phyllis at the Korner Stop Cafe. I met them right after they opened the cafe. They added so much to our little downtown Dexter. We have several new little shops downtown along with the established ones. Some from when I was a young child. I am proud of our downtown area for such a small town. I have had many out of town and out of state people in my shop the last month and nearly all were complimenting me on our down town. Made me proud. Keep up the good work Ken. I don’t know you but I enjoy your writings.

  7. Ken: When I came to live in Bloomfield after my wife and I got married in 1988 (after I had graduated from SEMO) I noticed too that some places of business in Dexter closed on Mondays. I thought that was kind of odd. I figured they must’ve been related to barber shop owners because if I remember right barber shops were always closed on Monday. To me it is strange to close on Monday. I don’t know too many towns that do that. But you should check out Dhafers right down from the Corner Stop Cafe. The food is excellent.
    The people that run the Corner Stop Cafe have made the
    Cafe look very good and they have a good business there and good food too.

  8. Was craving a Nothing Like It Chicken Sandwich last week and organized a ladies day out to feed the desire. I’m happy to be able to stop in the Corner Stop Cafe any time I want! Living in Malden has its advantages. You are correct about the owners and staff….wonderful people.

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