Cary, NC – Rogers Restaurant was once at the location on East Chatham Street where EE Salons is now. In his oral history interview with us in August of 2000, Billy Rogers told us some history about the restaurant.
In 1954, Daddy opened a restaurant where Johnson’s Jewelers is now. Then in 1961, he bought this building and moved the restaurant. He gutted the inside and rebuilt it with a meeting room in back to accommodate sixty people.
Barbara and I bought the building from him in 1966, and took over running the restaurant and motel. There were only two restaurants in Cary then: ours and Johnson’s BBQ, and before there were any country clubs or other meeting places. Ours was thought of as a nice place to have a wedding reception or a rehearsal dinner. It became a center for politicians to gather. The first time Jim Hunt ran for governor, we catered a weenie roast at the fairgrounds for him and served 1,500 people. We also catered a BBQ party for him at Montague Lake. All the people running for the legislature had morning gatherings with biscuits and speeches to raise money.
Our local politicians also met here. Every time Bob Godbold ran for town council re-election, he had gatherings here. It was thought of as a place for people to meet and discuss business over coffee and biscuits. When the town started growing, developers like Buck Jordan, Jeff Sugg and Clint Williams were regulars every morning for breakfast to discuss their projects. From Russell Hills, and then Kildare Farm Road and MacGregor Downs developments, they continued to come for coffee and biscuits. Then when a steak house opened on Kildaire Farm Road, those working on that side of town found it was easier to stop there. But they didn’t have the family type food we did. In 1966, sausage and ham biscuits were $0.15. Hamburgers were $.90 and cheeseburgers were $1.00 and came with creamy coleslaw and pickle chips. We had blue plate specials with prime rib, or very fresh seafood right off the coast. Our specialty was BBQ.
We closed in 1991 after I had a heart attack. People knew it was our last day so they all came. We did three times the business that day than a normal day. People were waiting for tables all day long. After we closed, we stayed in the catering business for a short time, and kept the meeting room open for groups. We continued to serve the Rotary Club breakfasts on Monday mornings as we had done since the club was formed.
We also catered Exchange Clubs, JCs, the Shrine Club and other civic groups, along with family gatherings. We kept that going because we didn’t want to let our customers down. They couldn’t go to Preston and get the type of catering and service that we gave them. The Godbolds brought their family every Friday night. It was like serving guests in our home. Barbara continued to make homemade pies for as long as we had a big oven. People wouldn’t let her quit. The year she made 96 pies for Thanksgiving, she said, “That’s it.” We enjoyed the personal part of it, doing things for people. They were our family, our friends. We always told people we slept on Ralph Drive and lived here.
Story by Peggy Van Scoyoc. Photos by Hal Goodtree. Much of Cary’s Heritage is taken from the book, Just a Horse-Stopping Place, an Oral History of Cary, North Carolina, published in August, 2006. The book is a collection of oral history interviews conducted between local citizens and Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel. The rest comes from later oral history interviews with local citizens.