Hannibal Courier-Post

Mug spinning again above Mark Twain Dinette

Mike Ludwig, Shannon Moss and John Lynn use two boom lifts and various tools on Friday to return the rebuilt and repainted Mark Twain Dinette root beer mug to its pole, where it can spin again for the first time in three years.
Posted: Oct. 5, 2018 2:30 pm

A frothy fixture high above Mark Twain Dinette is spinning once again with a fresh look.

Crew members with Century Signs used two boom lifts to carefully reinstall the restaurant's mug sign, following paint restoration and mechanical repairs to get it spinning.

The sign previously received repairs in 2014, but it was back to a standstill the next year. Patrons have pitched in donations over the past three years to help with reviving the iconic downtown symbol, Manager Kenna Bogue said.

Mark Fitzpatrick, owner of Mark's Auto Body, performed the paint restoration, and Century Signs of Quincy took care of the mechanical repairs and installation.

"They had to completely rebuild the transmission, so it's got basically a brand-new transmission in it now," Bogue said. "Hopefully that will keep it running."

Bogue said the mug used to be mounted at the corner of Hill and Third streets before it was relocated to its present site in the parking lot near the restaurant's 1988 addition. She said the original mug was associated with the Frostop franchise in the 1960s and 1970s. That connection went away, but the root beer tradition hasn't gone anywhere.

"They just repainted it 'Mark Twain Dinette,' kept the mug, and kept making homemade root beer," she said.

A severe 2011 storm damaged the mug, but Bogue's grandfather had an extra mug from the former Monroe City Mark Twain Dinette ready as a replacement. He sold the store to his son, Jody, in the spring of 2015. Kenna Bogue said she noticed a certain magnetism whenever the mug started spinning.

"When we used to turn it on, I would notice that it would bring in more traffic," she said. "Certainly, with it down, it was noticeable, but now that it's back up, the mug has always helped bring in business to the restaurant."

Some regular customers had been concerned by the local landmark’s absence. Bogue said local folklore has developed over the decades, like that it is filled with root beer or that it toppled over during a flood.

"Everybody loves seeing it up," she said. "We actually had people who were upset that it was down and gone, and thought we had gotten rid of it. They missed that we were just getting it fixed and repaired. But it's back up, and it's going to stay as long as it can."