The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 101
Click the photo or visit TheRoanoker.com/CoffeePot for more
memories about The Coffee Pot from Arnette Crocker
Tressel, voiceover for radio and TV, former singer.
the time, the Regency Room had an average of eight
people per table on staff. We were smothered with
attention, ate chateau briand for two and Mom said,
'That's an awful fancy name for roast beef. What's it
cost?' I didn't tell her. She would have been mortified.
ROANOKER RESTAURANT, 1941
Linda Pharis, Blue Ridge Land Conservancy:
"As a staff member of the Virginia Department of
Litter Control (yes, I confess), I came to Roanoke in
my early 30s to be interviewed on Polly Ayers' show
at noon on WDBJ. The then-head of Clean Valley
Council took me to the Roanoker to eat, because,
'You have to dine at this Roanoke tradition. And we'll
be the youngest people in there!' It was comfort food
heaven then and still."
My Take: Whether you ate biscuits and gravy or
gravy and biscuits, there was no wrong here. You got
fat, you stayed happy.
time was that Richie'd misplaced his front teeth and
didn't want me seeing that big gap. Friends later told
me that he not only showed for the concert, but shared
joints with them. I was devastated.
REGENCY ROOM, 1938
Ben Martin, retired from WVTF Public Radio:
"My date, Nora Leigh, and I went to the Regency
Room for our senior prom dinner. At its conclusion,
the waiter brings us each a small crystal bowl with water.
I'm from the country and don't know what to do with
it. Neither does Nora Leigh. However, she tells me she
thinks we're to drink it to cut down on indigestion. We
do it. The waiter howls."
Jane Frank, artist and teacher at The Studio School:
"When I was a child, my family and I would often go
to Hotel Roanoke to the Regency Room on Sundays and
for special dinners. It felt like a real occasion to go there
and it seemed like we were on a bit of a vacation from
normal life. The iconic peanut soup, spoon bread and
Dogwood China set the scene. When the hotel closed
and some of the original items were sold, I bought a
piece of that china. I still get this special vibe when I go
to the hotel and the Regency Room."
My Take: I took my mother to the Regency Room
in about 1975 for Mother's Day. She was visiting from
Asheville and I wanted something elegant, something
she simply hadn't experienced. Mom had eight kids and
was used to doing the cooking, waiting, cleaning. At
DOGWOOD RESTAURANT, 1945
Nita Echols, receptionist Cranwell & Moore Law firm
"For so many years [eating at the Dogwood] has become a tradition at our office. On Friday I have been
assigned to go to the Dogwood for breakfast for our staff.
The order will include tenderloin gravy over biscuits,
side order sausage, fried potatoes or BLT.
"The food is delicious and the order never varies. One
of my favorite memories is the year Richard and Elizabeth Cranwell hosted a reception for Ethel Kennedy at
their home. Mrs. Kennedy wanted to eat locally, so, in
true Cranwell style, first choice was the Dogwood Restaurant. Not only did she love the hamburger, but she
loved the people. The hamburger was a joint cooking
effort between Richard and Keith [Poff, owner for the
past 20 years]."
My Take: Quite a number of years ago, Friday was a
day to anticipate because it was the day all of us at The
Vinton Messenger went down to the Dogwood at lunch
and practiced being Southern. The $3 lunch layout included crunchy fried chicken (not just crisp; this stuff
was loud as a cracker), mac and cheese that swam in
cheddar, overcooked, pork-heavy, salty green beans and
a roll. This came topped with 30-weight sweet tea that
could have been sold in a confectionary. We all affected
the strongest Southern accents we could (not difficult
for some of us) and listened as the waitress called all of
us "honey," as in "well, bless your heart, honey."