STROUD —The historic Rock Cafe reopened Friday, just more than a year after fire gutted it. Dawn Welch, owner since 1993, swore the Rock Cafe would not only rise again but do it between the original walls.
On Friday, the doors opened between those walls built from stone unearthed during the construction of State Highway 66 and erected by Roy C. Rives in 1939. Now tucked between Mamie’s General Store and Ed Smalley Centennial Park — places named for the Rock Cafe’s two preceding owners, Mamie Mayfield (1959-83) and Smalley (1983-93) — the historic cafe is back serving typical diner fare plus a few German specialties. Mayor Jerry Murfin sat at a centrally located table with his wife and their son’s family through lunch Friday while visitors from Indiana to England came and went. "I’ve been coming here for roughly 50 years,” Murfin said. "I courted my wife here. We used to fill up gas here and spend whatever was left over to get a burger.” Murfin isn’t strictly nostalgic about The Rock. "Dawn does such a great job drawing tourists from all over the world here,” Murfin said. "We host car shows with her, and she does such a great job through the Internet.”
RebuildingWelch eventually found preservation technician David Burke of Perry. A restorer of antique furniture who wanted a bigger challenge, Burke has been restoring old buildings since 2000.