By Chuck Woodbury
The Mustard Seed Cafe in Jacksonville, Ore., has about the most unusual floor you will ever see. It’s covered with 120,000 pennies. There are also a few dimes, but it’s 99.9 percent pennies.
The restaurant has been there since 1958. It started out as a lunch counter, but the food was so good the owner expanded. Jeannie Inman bought the cafe six years ago. She loved food all her life and wanted her own restaurant. She’s done everything right because everybody around town loves the place. Jeannie says it was lucky I visited on a weekday because, “on weekends, the line is out the door.”
A couple of years ago she needed a new floor covering. She told a friend of hers who is the construction business. After tossing around ideas, he suggested she cover it with pennies. Jeannie thought that was a swell idea. So she went to her bank and got as many pennies as she could. It wasn’t enough, so she had to hustle to find more.
Eventually the word got out about the new floor and customers started bringing in their own pennies. They just gave them to her. Before long she had 120,000 pennies — that’s $1,200 worth — which was plenty to cover 400 square feet. The name of the cafe is spelled out right inside the front door in zinc-covered steel pennies made in 1943 during World War II when copper was too valuable for coins.
I opted for a cheeseburger, which I’d give a four stars out of five. But I give five stars to the sayings up on one long wall. The best one is “Be Nice or Leave.” Another says “Common Sense. . . so rare that it’s practically a super power.” Another good one is “I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.” The last one is my favorite based on my history of encountering obnoxious people in other restaurants: “Hang up and eat.”
There’s a very nice looking steel sculpture right outside the front door. I took a picture of it with Gail.
If you are in downtown Jacksonville, you should plan to dine at the Mustard Seed — breakfast and lunch only.