Rosemary Klawonn had several surprises on Saturday, April 13.
She was honored for 62 years of continuously operating her Shady Rest Cafe on U.S. 61 just south of Salt River, when nearly 80 people crowded into her small cafe for a surprise 89th birthday party. But Rosemary said she was even more surprised that everyone had been able to keep the party a secret, because many of the people are her regular customers, who gather at her cafe on a daily basis, six days a week.
“This has been a great surprise,” Rosemary said.
Her family and friends were celebrating her birthday (Monday, April 15), and she also was honored by state Rep. Jim Hansen, who presented her a Missouri House resolution, naming her “an outstanding Missouri citizen” who for 62 years has continuously operated Shady Rest Cafe” and was celebrating her 89th birthday.
Before posing for photos with Rosemary, Hansen said he had received a lot of support at Shady Rest. “You get a lot of advice. ... You can get both sides,” he joked.
The resolution states that Rosemary Klawonn of New London and her husband, Mahlon, and her parents, Aileen and Harold Eddy, started the business in 1950 as Shady Rest Campground and Cafe. It was flooded in 1958, 1973 and 2008 but did not ever close.
“She cooked and considered it a challenge to create and cook a different evening meal for customers who would come daily to eat.. .... Her husband kept the small engine and radiator shop going and sold Sinclair gasoline.”
The resolution states she is the loving mother of Gary and Ellie Klawonn, and Carol Ann and Gene Hoffarth; grandmother of Cindy and Larry Tharp, and Jeff and Angie Sparks; great-grandmother of Kane Tharp, Kara Brawley and Rich Scharlotte; and great-great-grandmother of Alyssa and Kaitlyn (Brawley’s 11-month-old twins).
Rosemary has been operating the cafe by herself since her husband’s death in 1986, but explained her customers help. “They all have jobs,” she said. “I’d never make it without them.
“I’ve never had waitresses,” Rosemary said. “It was always just us. I cook, and they come and get their plates. I make the first pot of coffee, and whoever sees it is empty makes the next pot. It’s good for me and for them. ... We’ve been closed for a vacation but never closed.”
Among Rosemary’s “regulars” at her party were Harry Musgrove, Raymond Dowell, Jim Watkins, Floyd Webster, Tony Gilliland and Richard Weiner.
Musgrove said he comes in at 7:30 a.m. “I pour the coffee.” Later he goes home and has breakfast with his wife, Ruth.
Dowell reported they take care of Rosemary’s building, where she also lives. “A high wind blew the roof off and I fixed it and put a brick on each one.”
Page 2 of 2 - Watkins arrives at 7:15 a.m. “I feed the birds, raise the blinds and I have made the coffee and turned the lights on,” he said.
Rosemary does all the cooking, the men explained, but when she get a plate ready, the customer goes back and gets it.
Weiner said he “used to be here every morning, but now I come in the afternoon.
“There is a morning shift and an evening,” he added. “I taught them (the morning shift) everything they needed to know.
“We’ve always said, ‘You can get a degree in common sense at the (Salt River) bridge.’”