The Rock Café is located at 114 W.
Main St. in Stroud, OK. The café is open from 6:00am to 9:00pm
seven days a week. For information, call 918-968-3990.
Like so many Route 66 roadside
businesses, the landmark Rock Café in Stroud began as a start up
business with modest capital. Owner Roy Rives took three years
to finish construction and, at times, resorted to hiring high
school students as a labor force. The concrete foundation of the
Bungalow/Craftsman influenced café was poured by wheelbarrow,
and its now famous Giraffe-style sandstone exterior may very
well have been the result of economy over inspiration. Some say
that Mr. Rives spotted a deal and purchased the entire supply of
local colorful sandstone (leftovers from a recent construction
project on Route 66) for just five dollars.
Rock Café finally opened for business in August 1939, conditions
were favorable. Traffic along the Mother Road steadily increased
as America emerged from the Great Depression. The café
flourished even during the rationing years of World War II, in
part because it doubled as a stop for the Greyhound bus lines
that carried thousands of travelers and hungry, thirsty GIs to
and from home leave. Following the war, the café went to a
24-hour schedule, a sign that Route 66 was entering its boom
years. The café installed its strikingly modernistic neon sign
in the late 1940s.
The Rock Café survived the
decommissioning of Route 66, but by the early 1990s, the
restaurant needed extensive rehabilitation. When the current
owners purchased the property in 1993, the outlook appeared
grim, and it got worse when in 1999 a major tornado hit Stroud,
devastating the town’s economy. Persisting through a commitment
to their adopted town and to the memory of the Mother Road, the
owners held on. In 2001, they succeeded in placing the café in
the National Register of Historic Places and received a cost
share grant from the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor
Preservation Program the same year.
The owners used the
funds for a top to bottom rehabilitation of the café, including
restoration work on the green tin roof, neon sign, and
Giraffe-style sandstone exterior. They also restored two
original entrances on the east and west sides of the café that
had been covered over with stone. The entire dining room
returned to an earlier era with booths, counter, and counter
stools restored to an original floor plan. In 2008, the café
suffered a disastrous fire. Funding from NPS and National Trust
Southwest Office assisted with post-fire assessment and
preservation plan that led to meticulous rehabilitation of the
cafe. Reopened in 2009, this welcoming roadside café is a
favorite stop for travelers along historic Route 66.