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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Highway 105 Diner offers unique look and homecooking

Sunday, December 7, 2003

Owner Randy Cook stands with restaurant manager Lisa Shands.
EAST PRAIRIE - Randy and Shari Cook wanted to create something unique when they opened their restaurant here. They decided to take diners back to the 1950s and the comfort foods the era was famous for.

The Highway 105 Diner, located a mile east of East Prairie, just off Highway 105, is easy to spot. A 1950s car hood and what appears to be the world's largest 45 RPM record top the building.

Inside there are real 45s hanging from the ceiling, 1950s-era stools and booths and even a jukebox matched with a cardboard cut-out of the King of 1950s cool, Elvis.

"This was my wife's idea," Cook explained about the decor. "No one else had a diner and it has been pretty interesting checking out other diners and restaurants."

But it isn't just the atmosphere that is bringing in the customers since the restaurant opened just over a year ago on Nov. 6, 2002. The Cooks take pride in providing some of the staples that made dining in the 1950s a special time.

Each morning, the staff hand-pats out the meat to create their own old-fashion hamburgers. Milkshakes are made using hand-dipped ice cream and get "all-shook up" on a Hamilton-Beach shake machine the couple purchased.

If a milkshake isn't a customer's drink of choice, they might try a root-beer float, drink one of the 8-ounce Coca-Colas or opt for a cream soda kept chilled in a glass case above the counter.

Also the menu features daily plate specials, homemade desserts, fried bologna sandwiches and funnel cakes along with the usual fare of french fries, onion rings, salads, fish or chicken sandwiches and more.

Lisa Shands, Cook's cousin and the restaurant manager, said she often hears comments from new customers as they review the menu. "They think it is unusual," she said. "You don't see things like funnel cakes cooked on a daily basis. What we emphasize is our home-cooked food."

She added the restaurant is steadily building its clientele. There are regulars she can serve without ever asking them what they want "but we see a new face every day, too."

Many of those regulars and new faces are older couples drawn to the restaurant because it takes them to memories of their past. Sometimes, Shands said, they will plug a few coins in the jukebox and start dancing across the black-and-white tiled floor.

Recently the Cooks added curb service, enabling customers to remain in their cars while they place their orders with one of the restaurant's eight employees. According to the restaurant owner, this is growing in popularity with their younger customers.

The restaurant is available for special events. Cook said it has been rented for birthday parties and even some area high school classes from the 1950s have inquired about renting the building as part of their reunions.

"As people are getting to know we are out here our clientele has been steadily growing. People seem to enjoy being here," said Cook.

The Highway 105 Diner is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and is closed Saturday and Sunday.