RICHMOND — Most people would cringe at the thought of enjoying a hamburger where a casket once stood; however, the patrons at L.D.’s Cafe do not seem to mind.
The popular hangout near the corner of Main and State Streets in Richmond began its existence as a funeral parlor more than 100 years ago. The parlor then briefly became a furniture shop, then a pool hall and saloon before becoming the local diner it is today.
“It’s kind of the hub of Logan and Preston,” said Dallan Day, Richmond resident and longtime L.D.’s regular.
Owner L.D. Bowcutt’s father bought the building in the mid-1950s and L.D. took over the establishment with his wife, Ann, in the early 1960s. They have been operating it ever since.
“Some of my employees have been working here for over 20 years,” he said. “We’re like a family, and I am going to keep working as long as I can because I love it here.”
The cafe, with its wood paneled walls and western artwork — much of it created by L.D.‘s friends — caters mainly to the Richmond community but also regularly serves out-of-towners drawn in by the restaurant’s nostalgic charm.
“It’s a good splash of Americana,” said one of the locals, Terry Nivison.
Waitress Dianna Jones refers to one group of regulars as “our nice, funny guys.” These men settle into the orange barstools to have a cup of Joe around 3 p.m. each day and trade stories of the day’s mischief and memories of mischief past.
“Once I saw (one of my neighbors) come in here with a shotgun chasing a man all around here because he thought he was stepping out with his wife,” laughed Larry Thornley, one of the cafe’s regular afternoon bunch.
L.D. also contributed a story or two. Once, during Black and White Days — Richmond’s annual cow festival — a couple of cattle traders from Canada and Washington led a grand-prize winning cow right into the restaurant, he said. One of the waitresses immediately jumped on top of the heifer for a photo, which still hangs in the cafe. L.D. said as soon as the cow was back outside “it made a huge mess, and it’s a good thing they made it out or I would’ve made them clean it up!” It’s a testament to L.D.’s hospitality that he invited the pranksters to be his house guests for the duration of the festival.
Aside from the local yarn-spinning crowd, a group of college students come up on the weekends to play pool and eat the cafe’s signature burgers with onions grilled into the patty, L.D. said. He then proudly pointed to the holes in the ceiling above the pool tables. The tables are in front of a big screen TV that is always tuned to ESPN. L.D. said that during tense games the pool players sometimes get a little excited and accidentally punch holes in the ceiling with their pool cues.
L.D. said he used to host big potlucks on Super Bowl Sunday, and while he does not any more, he still tries to invite the community to spend some of the holidays with him and his staff. On Valentine’s Day he gives flowers to the women, on Mother’s Day he presents flowers to the mothers, and on Father’s Day he hands out cherry chocolate bars to the dads. He said one of the biggest holidays at the cafe is St. Patrick’s Day. He prepares over 150 pounds of corn beef and cabbage for the celebration.
“It stinks up the whole place,” his wife Ann said, with a chuckle.
Aside from hosting holiday events at his restaurant, L.D. also supports the community by contributing to various sports clubs and teams. He donates to the rodeo club and basketball clinics at the local high school.
L.D.’s cafe serves classic American fare as well as a few seafood and international dishes. Plates cost between $4.25 for a corn dog and $20 for a rib-eye steak and stir-fried veggies; however, most dishes are in the $5 to $12 range. The restaurant opens at 7:30 a.m. daily and the grill turns off at 10 p.m. all days but Sunday, when it turns off at noon.