The Mark Twain Dinette, which has been in operation for the past 72 years at North Third and Hill streets in downtown Hannibal, will have a new owner in the spring of 2015, but it will remain in the same family.

The Mark Twain Dinette, which has been in operation for the past 72 years at North Third and Hill streets in downtown Hannibal, will have a new owner in the spring of 2015, but it will remain in the same family.

Joseph (Jody) Bogue is buying the dinette from his dad, John Bogue, and John’s wife, Kay.

The dinette opened for business in 1942 at 400 North Third Street, less than a block from the Mark Twain Boyhood Home on Hill Street. It has continued to serve both Hannibalians and tourists since then, with the small dinette being rebuilt, then enlarged several times over the years. The current building was built in the 1960s, with additions in the 1970s and 1980s, John Bogue said.

He said that in the spring, with his son as the new owner, the dinette will have three co-managers, Jody Bogue, Jody’s daughter Kenna Bogue and Danny Edwards, who has been a manager there for one and a half years.

Jody Bogue explained that he and his family live in the St. Louis area and will continue to maintain two locations.

Jody recalled his first job at the dinette was mowing the lawn, when his dad was manager. He was about 12 years old.

Then, he said, “I worked here through high school,” as a carhop, cook and at other jobs.

“I came back and was one of the night managers for four or five years in the mid-90s,” Jody continued. “Then my wife and I and kids went to Colorado for a few years.

“I am a respiratory therapist and for the past 15 years have been manager of home medical equipment companies.”

In 2002 his family moved to the St. Louis area. His wife, the former Kim Fagan of Barry, Ill., is a registered nurse at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.

Their daughter Kenna has a bachelor’s degree and will continue her education in business courses as she joins the dinette as a co-manager.

Another daughter, Cameron, 21, is a senior nursing student at the University of Central Missouri. Their son, Connor, 15, will continue high school in O’Fallon.


John Bogue explained he has been wanting to retire and the restaurant has been on the market for several years.



Jody Bogue will

be fourth owner


John noted that Jody will be the fourth owner of the dinette.

John provided the history of the Mark Twain Dinette. It was opened in 1942 by M.E. (Penney) and Madeline Pennewell.

Later Leroy Witthaus became a partner and eventually bought the business from the Pennewells.

By this time Pennewell had added the Twainland Express, and he continued to be a partner in this business after selling the dinette to Witthaus, Bogue said.

In the beginning tickets for the train were purchased outside the dinette, where Pennewell sold them from a little yellow booth.

At one time Dr. E.W. Harder was a partner in the Twainland Express, and eventually Witthaus became the sole owner.

Witthaus sold it to the Holiday Inn, which operated it for only a few years, Bogue said. Then the train and dinette were again combined.

"I came to work in 1976, and I leased it from Leroy (Witthaus), then bought it in 1985," John Bogue said.

He sold the Twainland Express trains four years ago. The little trains are now taking people on tours in Ketchikan, Alaska.


The dinette has continued to feature four menu items that is it known for, John said. the maid rite, tenderloin, homemade onion rings and homemade root beer.

“Those are the four things that we never want to change.”

The dinette's root beer was homemade from the beginning, he said. "Originally they were connected with a company called Frostop," and when he began working there, this name was in neon letters on a sign.
Nothing except root beer is served in a frosted mug, "to keep it special," he said. "We restrict the mug to root beer and root beer floats."
The maid rites are made with a special secret recipe that is from the franchise dating back to about 1925, he said. "It is a seasoning that enhances the flavor of the meat," but is not spicy or hot.

The restaurant business is for people who like the customer contact, Bogue said. "This business has a couple rewards from that part of it, being here as long as it has been and having the good local following that it does.

“We have a lot of restaurant friends that we see every day or every week, and we have people we see seven days a week. People come down and eat with us, and it is part of their social life. That is an enjoyable part of it. And the other side of it is getting to meet people on vacation that come from all over."