- Chief, Cook and Bottle Washer
- By GREG KENDALL-BALL
- The 63rd Missouri Photo Workshop / Clinton, Mo.
For 18 years, Kathy Robbins has been the only full-time employee at the Newsroom Bar & Grill in downtown Clinton, Mo. "It's just me – I'm the chief cook and bottle washer around here," she said.
She cooks, she cleans, she tends bar and she scrubs toilets. A few nights a week she has help serving food and mixing drinks, but most of the time she runs the restaurant as a one-man-band. Her husband Kevin is a heavy equipment operator who helps out behind the bar when he's not working out of town.
Robbins, 56, often works 14-hour days that start with picking herbs for spaghetti sauce from her own garden before 9 a.m. They end with her mopping the floors and turning out the lights after 11 p.m. The Newsroom is open six days a week. She gets Sundays off.
The food is good, the beer is cheap. Specials like Taco Tuesday and Pasta Wednesday have garnered a loyal following of customers.
Warren Stieb said he eats at the Newsroom four or five times per week. "This is the best food you'll find in town," he said. "My wife and I don't cook at home much. This is my home cooking."
Robbins may wish for a few more customers through the door, but not everyone wants the place to get too busy.
"We don't want this place getting too popular," said Rory Shelby, a pasta-night regular. "We like this being our little secret."
She said it's not in her personality to sit around doing nothing, but Robbins admits that if she didn't work as many hours, as many days, she likely wouldn't be able to afford to stay open at all. A new church that moved in across the street may affect her liquor license, and potentially her ability to sell the business in the future.
But for now, six days a week, she'll be serving up frosty mugs of Bud Light and her shrimp scampi to whomever walks through her door.
Kathy Robbins, owner of the Newsroom Bar & Grill in downtown Clinton, Mo., wipes down tables before opening for the day. "It's just me – I'm the chief cook and bottle washer around here," she said. Her husband, Kevin, a heavy equipment operator, often works out of town, but occasionally lends a hand behind the bar.
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