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Oklahoma's Own: Great-Grandmother Serves Up Home Cooked Dishes At Inola Restaurant

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The Railway Cafe is located just off the railroad tracks in Inola. The Railway Cafe is located just off the railroad tracks in Inola.
Mary Smith owns the cafe. Mary Smith owns the cafe.
A to-go order is assembled at the Railway Cafe Friday. A to-go order is assembled at the Railway Cafe Friday.
Tuesday's special is hot hamburgers. Tuesday's special is hot hamburgers.

Craig Day, News On 6

INOLA, Oklahoma -- Nothing against the chain restaurants, but to find some great places to eat, you owe it to yourself to give small town Oklahoma a try. The railway cafe in Inola may be just the stop.

Just off the tracks, you'll find a small place with just a handful of tables, but big on options for savory, down home cooking.

"The specials are good every day," James Harmon, a customer, said.

The special on Monday is chicken fried steak.

"Tuesday, hot hamburgers," said Mary Smith, owner of the Railway Café. "Wednesday, meatloaf."

On Thursday, it's chicken and dumplings. And what about Friday?

"Rib eye steak on a bun," Smith said.

Mary Smith is the head conductor, so to speak, at the Railway Cafe.

"Everybody thought I wasn't too smart when I did this, but I love it," she said.

They thought she wasn't too smart because when Smith, a former school lunch lady, retired in her 60's, she cooked up an idea to start her very first business. That was six years ago.

"It's just a lot of fun," she said. "A lot of hard work, but I like it."

Some come for the coffee and conversation.

"It's a good place to hang out," Harmon said.

Others come to satisfy their sweet tooth.

"There's a coconut crème pie," Smith said.

But all leave with a full stomach and a desire to come back again.

"It's a pretty big thrill whenever they tell you how good your food is," she said.

That's how Smith, who has 13 grandkids and four great-grandkids, likes it.

"No rocking chair," she said laughing. "Not yet anyway."

So if you're willing to get away from the chain restaurants, like good food and friendly service and don't mind replacing the rumble of an empty stomach with the rumble of the railroad, you're right on track with the railway cafe.

The Railway Cafe opens each morning at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday. It is closed on Sundays.

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