Andrews Café

Interurban Cafe
  Ice truck in front of Interurban Cafe, purchased
in 1916 by Gus & Angelica Andrews

103 South Waco Street, Hillsboro, Texas

In the early days of the automobile and before super highways, Hillsboro was a 1 ½ hour drive from Waco and a 2 ½ hour drive from Dallas. Travelers often chose Hillsboro as a convenient place to stop for a meal. With its location at the intersection of three major highways, Andrews Café became known far and wide for its good food and excellent service. 

Gus Andrews, who began his career at the Waldorf Astoria [more] in New York City, and his wife Angelica were Greek immigrants. Riding the Interurban through Hillsboro from their home in Waco, they spotted the Interurban Café and opened their restaurant in that location in 1916.

Andrews Cafe in the 1950's
Andrews Cafe in the 1950's  

Orders were taken by memory, and passed along to the cook who in turn was required to remember the order.  During busy times, the restaurant would become completely silent as customers listened to the orders being repeated in the kitchen.

Meals were served on white tablecloths and napkins of Irish linen made by Angelica.  The east end of the dining room held a buffet used for the silver flatware, sugar bowls, and cream pitchers which were engraved with "Andrews." Tables were set with the finest commercial bone china for seven course meals and after dinner coffee.  Service was known as the "Waiter, Napkin and Finger Bowl" type.

Lawyers from Waco or Austin would meet lawyers from Dallas at the café to discuss lawsuits.  Many a case was planned at these tables, and many a case was settled here.  Architects from one city would meet clients from another city, and preliminary plans for all sorts of buildings would be drawn up over a meal.

Andrews Cafe sign

Air conditioning was installed in the early 1930’s, one of Hillsboro’s first businesses to do so. The café was open 24 hours a day until WW II at which time the hours changed to 4 am until midnight. Dishes were washed in a copper conveyor dishwasher, the first and only dishwasher at that time in Hill County.

Gus Andrews and Governor W. Lee O'Daniel in Andrews Cafe
Gus Andrews and Governor W. Lee O'Daniel
in Andrews Cafe

The cafe was a local favorite, but also hosted such notables as Lyndon Johnson, John Nance Garner, Gov. W. Lee O’Daniel, Gov. John Connally, Bonnie and Clyde, Raymond Hamilton, John Wayne, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Elvis Presley, Mae West, Hank Williams, Van Cliburn, Tom Mix, Doak Walker, Babe Didrickson Zaharias, the Light Crust Doughboys and others. A sign on the wall read "Yes – Elvis Presley ate here at 1:22 PM March 28, 1958 – He sat at second table from front next to wall – Chair facing wall.  He ate Baked Virginia Ham Dinner." So many people came to see the famed singer as word spread through town that day that the doors were locked, at Elvis’ request, so that he could finish his meal.  Before leaving, he autographed the chair that he sat in.

Elvis Presley at Andrews Cafe
  Elvis Presley in uniform, shaking hands,
as he left Andrews Cafe on his way to Fort Hood,
March 28, 1958

Initially the café served mostly European foods but later added items more in demand in Central Texas.  Specialties were Sunday Baked Chicken with Greek Pastitcho [more] definition (similar to chicken and dumplings), steaks served on sizzling platters and fresh seafood from the Gulf Coast. On Easter Sunday the café featured real hard-boiled colored eggs hidden under rabbit-eared folded napkins on the tables and the Greek traditional Easter specialty of Roast Leg of Lamb. 

Andrews Cafe Menu
Menu from Andrews Cafe 

Andrews Café  was famous for its Bismarck rolls, a confection something like a fried pie. A menu listed the variety of breakfast, lunches and dinners that were offered:

  • Breakfast No. 1:  Fresh Chilled Orange Juice, Two Hot Griddle Cakes, Two Strips of Bacon, Butter, Syrup and Coffee – 55 cents
  • Baked Virginia Ham with Candied Yams and Natural Country Ham Gravy – the South’s most Famous Dish - $1.25
  • Filet Mignon, Bacon-wrapped, with French Fried Potatoes and Salas - $2.25
  • Special Seafood Dinner – Crisp Salad, Fresh Shrimp Cocktail, Broiled Red Snapper Steak, Oysters, Stuffed Devil Crab, Tartar Sauce, Fried Potatoes and Drink - $1.50
  • Bismarck Rolls – 15 cents
  • Slice of Pie – 15 cents

Memorabilia from the café, which closed in 1969, including menus, an advertising sign, matchbooks, pencils, drinking glasses, and china is on display at the Cell Block Museum in Hillsboro.

True Texas Tales of the People, Places, and Events of Hill County, Texas