Cecil "Cooky" Ambler was known as a good businessman and a colorful character. He was born in Lamar, MO in 1914. He died in 2000. He found employment in a diner that was on the north side of the square in Lamar. It is speculated that is where he obtained the nickname "Cooky."
In 1942 he and his wife Ellen opened Cooky's Cafe in Golden City, MO but not at its current location. It was catty-corner across the street in what is known as Giles Station, which is still standing.
In 1946 George Colderman, a local banker, encouraged Cooky to move to a bigger space which is its current location. The building dates back to the early 1900s when it was C.O. McAhron's Photography Studio. The back hallway had been a jewelry store, dentist office, several hamburger joints, and a watch repair where your watch was rumored to never be returned in one piece.
Cooky bought his meat daily form Wolf's Meat Market, located in the current bank parking lot. Milk and cream were delivered daily by Elmo Nutts Dairy. The menu has remained close to what it originally started from, even though Cooky had no printed menus or posted prices.
It was famous for its pan-fried chicken, ham sandwiches, and pies. Cooky made his own pies, which were cut in fifths and a slice only cost you a quarter. The biggest sellers were White Peach, Apple, and Custard. He was open seven days a week, but when he was open for breakfast he did not cook or serve, because he did not come into work until around 9 a.m.
In the 1950s Cooky's Cafe served beer, with Schlitz on tap and Budweiser in bottles. They had operating hours like a bar, staying open until around midnight. In the 1960s, the back room was built on and, with the expansion, came deep fryers to keep up with the chicken consumption.
Elaine Eldred went to work for Cooky in 1968. She worked for him until 1971 when Cooky developed an illness. With Cooky sick, Cooky's closed the doors temporarily. In 1972 Gerald and Alberta Storbeck purchased the cafe. Cooky returned for two weeks to help them get started and was there to help when they called for advice. Storbecks kept the same menu, but added a printed menu with prices. Gerald owned Cooky's from 1972-1977. Storbecks did not serve alcohol and started closing on Mondays. They only served lunch and dinner.
Elaine Eldred returned to working at Cooky's in the mid '70s for Storbecks until she and her family purchased it in the fall of 1977.
In 1984 Elaine's son Jim and daughter-in-law Carol Eldred bought Cooky's. Jim and Carol have had five children who all worked in the business at some time in their lives. Their oldest, Edie, worked here in high school, her husband, Bob Ogden, was a partner from 1997 until 2018. Greg Eldred joined in 1987, leaving for a few years during the late '90s, but is a current partner. Todd Eldred joined in 1999 and is a current partner. Joe Eldred was a partner from 1999-2009.
In 2018 brothers Greg and Todd Eldred are continuing as owners after Carol retired. They continue to serve our community with the same home cooking that started with Cooky himself.
July 1st 2020 Cooky's was bought by Willie and Holly Stefan.