1970s Lawrence:  The Cornucopia Cafe

*** Glen Sohl died of cancer July 6, 2014.  He was a good man. ***

In or around 1974, a couple of young guys named Glen Sohl and Todd Murrell opened a restaurant called the Cornucopia Cafe.
It was a small place at 1801 Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, across from Dillon's.
It featured the Midwest's first salad bar as well as whole-grain bread baked on the premises.

At that time I was working as a cook at the Village Inn Pancake House just off of 9th and Iowa, but I was hip to food that's good for you and tastes good. 
I lobbied the Village Inn's manager to emulate some of the healthy aspects I saw at the Cornucopia,
but of course the Village Inn was a corporate chain with a track record of success selling food that tasted good but wasn't good for you.

Nowadays, most of us take big salad-and-soup bars and whole-grain bread for granted.  Back then, it was pretty novel.

The Cornucopia, or, as we usually said, the Corno, played a significant part in my life in the second half of the 1970s.

During the Billy Spears Band days, Jimmy Ray, Bob, and I would play there as the Wakarusa Valley Bluegrass Boys on a weekday night when we weren't travelling. 
Michael Roark was with us on mandolin before his accident, then Buddy once HE learned mandolin.
We played for food.  At the time, Lee McBee cooked there on the day shift.

Then, when the Spears band had disbanded in 1978, I went to work for the "branch" Cornucopia at the Virginia Inn on west 6th street.  I was the opening cook during the week.

Apparently the Virginia Inn location didn't make enough money, because it closed.  I went to work at the original store on Mass. Street.
Glen tried to make me into a kitchen manager, but I'm really not the managerial type.

Soon thereafter, Bud Pettit went to work in the kitchen as well.  Bud and I worked many lunches together, and I remember it fondly.

I thank Glen Sohl for the photos below, which I downloaded from his website.


Above:  The original Corno.  The bakery was in the house to the left.

Right:  Glen's daughters in front of the restaurant.



Left:  The neon sign.

Above:  Could be one of Eric Swartz's Volvos?
Bakery
   Kitchen
Salad and soup bar






Above:  As it looked inside around 1976.

Left:  Lawrence's first restaurant mural, painted by Missy McCoy.





Above:  Pastah's was a short-lived "fast Italian" concept next door. 
I developed the recipes and made a LOT of lasagna.

Left:  The way the Corno looked when you walked in the front door.

Please forgive me for the inevitable omissions and forgotten names.  In no particular order:

Joanne Bergman
Mary Ellen Bergman
Greg Eicher
Robin Dick
Branham "Brandy" Rendlen
Dennis Smith
Wendell Samuels
Bobby (dishwasher) - last name?
Don Dowdy
Missy McCoy
Tom Hawver
Ardys Blake
Mike Sweeney
Jim Weaver
Alan Weaver
Walt Weaver
Cathy Wiley
Cindy Atwood
Gary Schribner
Anne Bemis
Tom Goetz
Jerry Palmer
Vicky Patterson
Janet Perico
Kevin Cahill
Richard Linker
Curtis (dishwasher) - last name?
Sally (Mike Sweeney's GF for a while) - last name?
Lee McBee
Victoria (waitress at the Virginia Inn) - last name?  She stunned me one morning by planting a big wet smooch on my lips, out of the blue...
Bud Pettit
Val Sheldon
Aimee Stewart
Amy Pavone
Boroslav "Bobo" March - let me stay in a room in his house for a while.  Thanks! [RIP]
The Iranian dishwasher, married to a short round girl who also worked in the kitchen
Eric Swartz - Eric, I've driven Volvos for the last 15 years...
Sue Tart
Jon Hoke
Terri Irving
Sheril Haislip
Kim Olson (ran Pastah's)

Update, late 2013:  Here in St. Louis, I work with a guy who used to eat at the Cornucopia all the time.

Copyright 2014 by Andy Curry