The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 100
Facing page, upper: The
ROANOKE WEIN`ER STAND, 1926
Coffee Pot, owned by
Carroll Bell, has been a
fixture along Brambleton
Avenue since 1936, when
it was in a rural setting.
Karen Chase, author "Bonjour 40," former Roanoker:
"It sounds silly; the idea that buying a hot dog can
brighten your day. I went through some pretty challenging moments when I lived in Roanoke, but each
time I even walked by the Roanoke Weiner Stand and
Gus Chacknes' big smiling face, my day changed.
"He was there to remind me to do what I love.
To enjoy even the simple, yet pleasurable things like
lunch. I could plop down on a stool in the window,
dump ketchup on fries, and watch the world walk
by. The simple act of munching on a hot dog always
made me feel like a kid again. So I would leave there
happy, with a smile on my face for Gus, too."
Matt Bullington, fourth generation owner of the
"It's the same here as it was in 1930 [when his
great grandfather founded the restaurant]. Unchanged. We don't monkey with the menu ... except maybe no more bottled drinks. It's worked.
There's a cultural mooring here. Society changes, but
there are a few little things that people cherish because
they've always been that way."
My Take: In the late 1970s, when I worked in the
sports department of The Roanoke Times, Friday
nights during basketball and football season were
crazy-busy in the office, taking game reports on the
phone. Even when we went out to cover a high school
game, we came back in-house, sometimes writing a
dozen stories in an hour.
After work, I nearly always stopped by the TT and
ordered two hotdogs (with onions), a cheesy western
(with) and a bowl of "chile" (with). I'd take that mess
home, spread it out and suck it down. Then I'd go to
sleep. Amazing what a young body can withstand.
COFFEE POT, 1936
Mike Overacker, photographer and proprietor
"I do remember one time at the Pot when a fight
broke out in the pool table room. The bouncer, Charlie
Nichols, got someone to watch the door. He stood up
and walked to the back room. The next thing I saw was
Charlie coming out of the back room with the head
of one fighter under his left arm and the head of the
other fighter under his right arm. He was moving so
fast that the combatants couldn't get their feet under
them. He slid them through the front foyer and threw
them out the front door ... by their heads. I couldn't
100 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014
TEXAS TAVERN, 1930
Arnette Crocker Tressel, voiceover for radio and TV,
"Bobby Webber, Roger Dixon and Danny Counts
were playing at the Pot pretty regularly, promoting their
album "Gowned and Bagged." Theirs was a dirty Zappa
kinda humor incorporated into original compositions
that put everyone ill at ease until they had a few. "
Jan Keister, Legal Aid Society of Virginia in Roanoke:
"It was my big Rock Star moment. The band didn't
show up at the Coffee Pot, so a bunch of local musicians
came to play, but they didn't have a singer, so I got on
stage and sang 'Texas Rain.' It was fun, but no one was
in a hurry to offer me a music contract."
Cristina Siegel, Clean Valley Council director:
"About 15 years ago, I was very pregnant and had been
a vegetarian for years. My body and everything else was
telling me, you need MEAT! So my at-the-time-husband
drove me from Bent Mountain into Roanoke and we
entered the dark and shadowy Coffee Pot. Had never
been there before, but proceeded to order myself one
big ol' juicy and delicious burger. Oh yes. The Coffee
Pot shall forever remain the place where vegetarianism
lost and burgers won."
My Take: I had a story interview with the late Richie
Havens late one afternoon at the CP before his show.
Richie was an old blues guy who cashed in heavily on
George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun." I waited for
an hour and he never showed. Only time that ever happened to me with somebody famous. My guess at the