Reprinted here by special permission of the author, Cindy Beckman, a retired Conway High School history teacher who writes local history.
In 1945, Kenneth Sullivan built a restaurant, Sullivan’s Ice Cream Parlor, on the northwest corner of Donaghey and Robinson. Patrons drove up to the south side of the building and a waitress would come out to the car to take their order for ice cream or sodas. Sullivan’s was also remembered for its grilled cheese sandwiches and hamburgers.
Sullivan sold the ice cream parlor to Coy and Ruth Crow in 1954. Coy was a Navy veteran and Ruth had been a Faulkner County librarian before they got married in 1938. They lived in the house that is now Patticakes. The Crows continued to serve ice cream but they extended the kitchen and began serving pit barbeque and broasted chicken.
For those not familiar with broasted chicken, it is a cooking process that was trademarked by the Broaster Company. The chicken was marinated and then dipped in a flour mixture before it was placed on a tray to cook in a pressure fryer for six minutes. The fryer could hold twelve chickens at a time.
Coy’s was also a drive-up restaurant. Painted on the front of the building were the words, “Blink lights for service.” Male car hops would come out to take customer orders. In addition to the broasted chicken, the restaurant was known for Ruth Crow’s delicious pies topped with thick meringue. Root beer was served in frosted mugs and Frito pies were made with homemade chili.
In 1972, the Crows sold the restaurant to Gary Langley who changed the name to Gary’s. He ran the restaurant for just a short time before he sold it to Florence Smith and her daughter and son in law, Sheila and William Pruett. The restaurant then was renamed Mrs. Smith’s Pie Shop.
David Stobaugh, nicknamed “Stoby,” managed several restaurants after college, including Danver’s Restaurant, which was formerly located on Oak Street where Dunkin’Donuts is today. In March, 1980, Stobaugh approached Mrs. Smith about splitting the rent with her on her pie shop. Instead Mrs. Smith decided to sell him the business and stay and work for him. She continued to make her pies and cakes for several more years.
Stobaugh started Stoby’s “on a shoestring.” He had $900 to open the restaurant and he spent all of it just getting equipment and furniture and such. He ended up selling his car to buy food. And that is how Stoby’s began.
The restaurant broke even from Day One. Stobaugh attributes his success to the grace of God. That is why the restaurant has always remained closed on Sunday. He honors his Lord by allowing his employees to attend church.
In 1984, Stobaugh opened a second location in a train car in Russellville. Later he added a replica depot, board room and depot room. The train tracks are still close by. He also operated A Place to Eat, an upscale restaurant, in downtown Conway for a few years. It was located where Mike’s Place is today.
Stoby’s became the “go to” place for college students and locals. Besides the Stoby sandwiches, the original menu included tacos and nachos. The original nachos included lettuce, chili, tortilla chips and cheese. Salsa was in a bottle on the table. And of course, yellow Stoby Cheese Dip and chips was the appetizer before every entree.
Stoby Cheese Dip is David’s own recipe. The recipe was supposed to be a secret but someone developed a “copy-cat” recipe that showed up at parties in the area for a while. David soon began mass producing and packaging the dip for distribution to convenience stores and grocery stores. In recent years, he has also developed a white cheese dip that has become equally popular.
The restaurant on the corner of Donaghey and Robinson has been blessed with several well-loved owners. Many happy memories have been made there in the last 70 or so years. Many more will be made when the new Stoby’s returns in 2017.