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Lucy's Corner Cafe to lock its doors after 30 years

  • 1 min to read

COLUMBIA — Lucy's Corner Cafe is celebrating its last day in business Friday, marking the end of a three-decade-old franchise that has been one of Columbia's most beloved places to gather for breakfast and lunch. 

Lucy Reddick has owned and operated the family-oriented diner since 2004. After working at the restaurant for 23 years when it was Ron's Country Boy, Reddick bought the building from Tracy Dexter and changed the name.

Dexter, who died in a car crash in 2011, had taken over the restaurant after the death of its founder, "Country Boy" Ron Dexter. Ron Dexter died of cancer in 1985.

Apart from the name, the diner remains almost identical to what it looked like when Ron Dexter opened it in 1981.

"One night we closed as Ron's Country Boy," Reddick said of the transition. "We just changed the sign, and the next morning it was Lucy's."

Lucy's is well-known and loved for its simplicity and homey atmosphere.

Carol Reynolds, a server at the diner and Reddick's sister, said the no-fuss vibe of the restaurant is one reason it's closing.

"With the world changing and people being in a constant rush, there is less of a demand for small, home-style diners like this one," Reynolds said.

Jennifer Hulen pours coffee for a group of morning customers

Jennifer Hulen pours coffee for a group of morning customers Wednesday at Lucy's Corner Cafe. Hulen is the mother of diner owner Lucy Reddick's two grandchildren and is part of the family-run staff that makes the atmosphere at Lucy's unique. Near the cash register of the diner there is a wall decorated with pictures of patrons and their families from the last 13 years.

Reynolds has worked with and for her older sister since she was 15. She looked off at a wall covered in photos — both new and old — of different families when asked what she will miss the most about the restaurant.

"Losing our regulars is a huge heartbreak," Reynolds said. "It makes me want to cry. It is a family."

Reddick's son and cook at the cafe, Josh Rice, said business is difficult depending on the season.

"College kids are our main customers so when school breaks come, the guest count seems to drop by a lot," Rice said.

Some guests have enjoyed Lucy's for years. Columbia resident Jay Yeager took his 3-year-old son, Maddox Yeager, to Lucy's this week to share a meal and a nostalgic moment. 

"This is Maddox's first time eating at Lucy's," Yeager said. "I wanted to have this experience with him before it closes. I am lucky to have gotten to take my son here."

James 'Jay' Yeager eats breakfast with his son Maddox Yeager

James "Jay" Yeager, a long-time regular at Lucy’s Corner Cafe, eats breakfast with his son Maddox Yeager, 3, for the first and last time Monday at the downtown diner. Yeager brought his son to continue the legacy started by his own father 30 years ago when the diner was still called Ron’s Country Boy. “We had a ritual that when I’d get in trouble and have to appear in city court for speeding or something like that, we’d come have breakfast here before I would go to court,” said Yeager. “When I heard Lucy’s was going to be closing Friday I wanted to come out and share the experience with (Maddox) once. I’m a little sad; it’s kind of a passing of an epic legendary business in Columbia that’s been around for so long. I wish them all the best and I’m sad to see it go.”

Yeager has eaten frequently at the restaurant since he was a child and said he wishes the staff the best of luck.

"It will be sad to see the passing of a diner that my family has known for so long," Yeager said.

The staff at Lucy's has started to make arrangements for jobs after its closing. Reynolds said she is unsure what will become of the building.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

  • Summer 2017 general assignment reporter. I am a junior studying magazine design. Contact me at heop73@mail.missouri.edu or (816)728-5757

  • Staff photojournalist in the Missouri School of Journalism graduate program

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