Claysville Store, June 2023

By: Frank Burkett

First, a little history of Claysville: Claysville, located in Southern Boone County near the MO River, was laid out in 1844. It was named after Henry Clay the Kentucky statesman. A post office called Claysville was established in 1850 and remained in operation until 1908. It had a riverboat mooring and also a railroad stop in its heyday.

Claysville Store-circa 1910

When I first attended the Store in about 1999, my impression was, it wasn’t love at first sight but before I left I thought, this will not be my last visit. What impressed me was Mark’s dad Fred, an elderly gentleman, visiting all occupied tables to welcome regulars and even strangers such as Betty and myself. Mark and Laura lost their ambassador Fred in March of 2006. Mark and Laura worked full time when the Store opened, which impressed me too. Mark and Laura’s children Sarah, Fred and Natalie were all employed at the Store also. But I saw no favoritism to them over the other high school kids.

All their tasks were to take care of the customers. Then buss tables after a fine meal. Mark retired in 2019 from Meyer Electric but he and Laura have devoted their weekends to frying the best chicken, country ham and sides for many customers through the years. I don’t know if Laura is retired or not. Also, Laura and Ruthanne, her mother bake pies and deserts. I don’t know who makes the blackberry cobbler, but it remains the favorite for Betty. Ruthanne’s lemon meringue is my favorite. Ruthanne brought her lemon and sometime banana cream pie with her signature meringue topping to the Senior Center on Dinner Days. Laura makes delicious pies also. That would have been a hoot in the kitchen, three wonderful pie makers.

I don’t pretend to be a close friend of Mark and Laura Hooibrink, but I do know they are well thought of by us and the surrounding community. In case you aren’t aware of whom I am speaking of, they are the owners and proprietors of the Claysville Store. In the 26 years that they have been in business, I don’t recall seeing any advertisement of their eating establishment. But I imagine at the start, there had to be some way to get the word out on their new establishment.

After the initial startup, “word of mouth” had to be their greatest tool to draw customers. Another great tool of getting the word out is their use of High School students and mostly Southern Boone but Jefferson City and perhaps Columbia students employed as waiters and waitresses.

I am aware of teenagers telling their parents that Mark and Laura are very fair managers of their employees and that they have a wonderful rapport with the employees and vice versa. Those parents have parents too and they also talk to their friends and voila, the word gets around. I also observed the work ethics of those young men and women, and whether they know it or not, this will follow them into adulthood. The kids accommodate us elder folks and the younger folks too.

I am speaking of the bikers that stop in from the Katy Trail, which is nearby. I myself tip freely there and I am sure most of the other customers do also, because we know it is gratifying for the recipients but just as gratifying for us. I sensed Mark’s comradery with his young employees when he comes out to our table, as he always does and also too every table that is occupied. But in conversing with Mark, it was confirmed, that Mark and Laura’s reward is seeing that the student employees succeed. Mark always makes an appearance from the kitchen to greet customers at every occupied table, and perhaps this is a trait that he learned from Fred, his dad.

Then along in 2013 came the ‘real McCoy’s’. My reasoning for calling Jim and Ruthanne McCoy, REAL, is because I can’t think of any two more down to earth persons than Ruthanne and Jim McCoy. Both are persons of faith and Jim himself was a Minister. Jim has past on now to be with Jesus Christ. But we had conversed at the Senior Center and also at Moser’s Store several times. The third time I saw them at Moser’s is where they told me of when the two became involved. If I remember right, Ruthanne was with other young ladies and she told them she liked the tall one. If you knew Jim that gives you a clue of who Ruthanne had her eye on. To me it was truly a wonderful Love Story. The setting was in a church and Jim was in the military, a cook in the Army at the time. I believe they told me it was sort of like the USO Canteens (WWII) catering to homesick military personnel to bolster their morale. Before we parted ways Jim presented to me a little Ziploc bag with many small pieces of paper and on each was a different word of scripture, of which I understand is Jim’s forte. I deeply admire a person that will speak his mind and carry on the Apostle’s work by spreading the Gospel.

Here is another impressionable trait. We have been to the Claysville Store twice when Mark and Laura held Benefits for members of the area. I don’t have any idea of how many benefits they have held. Note: It is important that you make reservations to reserve a table. Laura told me that Mark fries over 2000 pieces of chicken on Mother’s Day which is their busiest day of the year. A milestone happened on Father’s Day 2005 when they added another room that accommodated 60 more customers. There has been 2 more updates since then. If you haven’t been there, go 63 South to Claysville Rd. and go to the end.

*These are words of conjecture and observations on my part. I have never interviewed Mark, Laura, or any of their kinfolk. The following is just my observation of the business of Mark and Laura Hooibrink while we enjoy our meal plus the atmosphere.