Path Home Shows 2008 Show Archive August 2008 Show 0833 Kumback Café

Kumback Café

The Kumback Café in Perry, Oklahoma, is a local diner with local color and a national reputation.
Kumback Café

Kumback Café

For more information visit these links:

Kumback Cafe on Leisure and Sport Review's website
Kumback Cafe on Roadfood's website
Kumback Cafe on Travel OK's website

Show Dates

Show 0833: Kumback Café

Air date: August 17, 2008



Rob:  Often times when we are out on assignment, we run into completely different stories that we just have to share.  While in Perry covering Free Wheel, we visited a local diner that caught our Hannah Wright’s attention.  So she took a trip back, to the Kumback Café.

Hannah:  Located on the courthouse square in Perry, the Kumback Café has seen its share of history.

Marilee Macias:  The Kumback was started in 1926 by Eddie Parker, and it was in the same location that it is today.  It started in a little white building that only had about six or eight stools up front, and he had it until we bought it in 1973.  So the Kumback’s been here now for 82 years, and there’s only been two family owners in 82 years, which in itself is quite a history.

Hannah:  Stories of days gone by that can be seen on the walls, in the food, and sitting around the tables.

J D Saddler and Ken Schuermann:  That’s what we call the going away table.  Because the guys that ate and drank coffee at that table, have all gone away.  Is that a nice way to put it?  So we won’t drink coffee, the locals do not drink coffee at that front table.  That’s the going away table.

Hannah:  So what’s this table called then?

Ken Schuermann:  The leftovers, I guess!

Hannah:  The regulars at the Kumback paint a picture of the essence of life in small town Oklahoma.  And though the food and coffee are always good, it’s not the only reason they keep coming back.

Ladies:  It’s the “Cheers” of Perry; with no beer, of course.

Hannah:  Which is Marilee’s favorite part of owning the historic diner.

Marilee Macias:  The people that come in here are wonderful.  I like to see the town’s people come in every single day.  We love them all.  We’ve got a big history, of Perry, that’s here.  We like to have tourists that come in off the highway.  It’s interesting to talk to people from all over the United States and foreign countries that come in here.  I have a register book up at the front, hospitality book, that everyone signs, and it’s interesting to see where people come from.

Hannah:  Carrie, Christine and Ben Elder are from Los Angeles, California, and stopped in at the Kumback after hearing its story on The Splendid Table on NPR.

Ben Elder:  It was an absolute rave.  Nothing gets on their segment unless it’s really good.  And I’ve never heard them go so crazy over a place!

Hannah:  Marilee and Tony Macias have dedicated much of their lives to the success of the Kumback. Tony worked for the original owner, Eddie Parker, while still in grade school at Perry.

Tony Macias:  I was too young to have a driver’s license, but I’d drive his truck.  And I was speeding around, running stop signs and everything around Perry; and a “hy-po” caught me one time, so that knocked me out of being able to drive.  So he brought me in here.  Well, I was confined then, you know.  And I started learning how to cook, just helping.

Hannah:  Tony decided to buy the Kumback from Mr. Parker and carry on the tradition.  Perry assistant principal and wrestling coach, Scott Chenoweth.

Scott Chenoweth:  I think Kumback is one of the strong traditions in Perry.  You know, our 16th celebration is strong, because it’s a tradition.  Wrestling is strong, because it’s a tradition, and there’s other things; but Kumback is another strong tradition in Perry.

Hannah:  And while the Kumback has seen its share of changes over the decades, some things remain the same.

Larry Daylor and Don Baetz:  Camaraderie, good coffee, smiling waitresses.  It’s a meeting place really.  I guess it’s our community center!  Or maybe the old folks home.