The Inland Cafe

By Phyllis Badgley

Mr. and Mrs. Earl Stiff opened the Inland Cafe on Tenth Street in 1946 to serve home-cooked meals to truckers. Their pies soon became so popular that travelers would send orders ahead of them on postcards.

A Baker City Original

Ham and Eggs 50 cents, Steak Dinner 75 cents!

Hard to believe, but true. Those were 1946 prices at the Inland Café, 2715 10th St., Baker, Ore.

The café was born when a facility was needed for truckers. Earl Stiff operated the Inland Oil Company on North 10th Street. Baker was the main turn-around for well over 100 drivers and 20 tankers every day. While the drivers left their trucks for servicing, they needed a place where they could sit, relax and have a home-cooked meal.

Earl, realizing this and being aware that the closest restaurant was several blocks away downtown, proceeded to build a 10th Street restaurant close to the trucking facility. In March 1946, the Inland Café opened for business. The good home cooked meals were appreciated by the drivers as well as townspeople.

Business was good; many times a long waiting line stretched down the sidewalk to the corner of the block.

At that time, the restaurant was about the size of a boxcar, with only a counter and 15 stools. Earl determined the height to build the counter by having different truck drivers try it out.

In addition to the home cooked meals, the restaurant became famous for it's homemade pies. This specialty was so well known that people traveling across country sent ahead a postcard order for pies to be picked up when they reached Baker. America's favorite pie, Apple Pie, topped the list of seventeen different varieties offered. Recorded in 1971, total pies made that year was 6,400.

Several pie makers deserve the credit for making these delicacies famous. Among them were family members Hazel McBride, Lucille McCulough and Eve McBride.

Earl and wife, Clarice, reared a family of five children, namely LaVaughn (Gould), Duane Stiff, Drucilla (Carpenter), Carl Stiff, and JoAnne (Hardy).

In observance of the Sabbath, the Inland Café closed each Sunday so the family could attend the Nazarene church activities. In 1947, the café was sold to Mr. And Mrs. G. Lowell Fuller, who chose to lease it out to a manager. After several changes, the establishment was leased to Loren and Hazel McBride in December 1952. Loren was a truck driver by trade and continued to drive while Hazel and her sister operated the cage.

After leasing the Inland for six years, the McBrides bought the business. Excellent cooking ability caused business. Excellent cooking ability caused business growth and a need to enlarge the dining area. In 1958, they added two-thirds more seating space and built a larger kitchen.

Today, the three support posts in the center of the room were originally the front wall of the building. The wall directly behind the present counter was the former rear wall.

After 19 years of service at the Inland Café, the McBride dream of retirement came true. They sold the café to new owners, Norman and Donita Miller, in October 1971. In 1973, a new front entrance was completed, the kitchen enlarged and seating capacity increased to 80.

Present owners, Don and Sharon Orr, began operating the Inland Café in 1996, marking the observance of homemade apple pie being served continuously for 50 years. It's still being served today. Ala mode, anyone?

Printed here with the permission of Baker City Herald

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