Early-day resident couldn’t stay out of restauranting

By Don McAlavy: Curry historian

“Bill Ogg was one of the best known of the early-day restaurateurs,” said Tom Pendergrass, Clovis’ first historian. Tom, back in the early 1950s, did a “column” and live broadcast over KICA and KCLV.

“Bill Ogg will be remembered as opening more restaurants in Clovis than any half dozen men with the exception of Hamburger King,” said Tom. He was sponsored by Travis Food Market at 123 W. Grand.

“Bill Ogg’s first restaurant was opened in the cement block building just north of the Santa Fe passenger depot, in 1908,” he said.

“Bill Cavender built that building and had a saloon on the south side, and Bill Ogg operated a restaurant on the north side. Bill sold this establishment when he and Bill Cavender failed to see eye to eye and wound up by having a fistic argument in which butcher knives and bottles of intoxicating beverages were introduced as convincers and both Bills came out second best.

“You couldn’t keep Bill Ogg out of the restaurant business,” Pendergrass said, “and he opened up again on south Main Street. His restaurants were always known as Bill Ogg’s, but somehow or other they acquired the well-known term of ‘The Greasy Spoon.’ But along about 1914 a widow with five daughters, known as Boss, came along, but technically that name was right, she was the boss, and the Greasy Spoon came under the name of ‘Ogg & Boss,’ and it was under this name that Bill Ogg really prospered. He married Boss, but she died in 1924. In 1925 Ogg & Boss was at 218 Main. Bill Ogg was at 501 Main in 1932 calling it the White Café. The late John and Jim Rallis came to town and bought him out, and the place immediately became known as the Busy Bee Café, but at 316 Main, and the Busy Bee Café was later moved to the northwest corner of Second and Main.

“Although Bill Ogg and Mrs. Boss and the Rallis brothers are all dead the present Busy Bee Cafe, Clovis’ oldest established restaurant, is a direct descendent of Bill Ogg’s Greasy Spoon,” according to Pendergrass.

William M. “Bill” Ogg and Boss probably had several other locations for their restaurant in Clovis, but no proof, just hearsay. One hearsay story has a man coming into Ogg & Boss and pointing to the raisin pie saying he’d have a piece of raisin pie. Bill Ogg said, “That’s not raisin pie; that’s custard pie,” as he shooed the flies off the custard pie with his fly swatter.

Back in 1985 Emery Artman, 87 years old, of Clovis and formerly of Ray County, Mo., wrote a letter to the Richmond Daily News in Missouri. Artman asked, “Does anyone in Ray County know what happened to William ‘Bill’ Ogg?” And he said, “In 1940 the restaurant was still operating in Clovis by Bill Ogg at 203 West Grand Ave. That is the last I knew about it.”

A third or fourth cousin of Bill Ogg saw the letter in the paper and replied to Artman. The cousin, Clarence Ogg, said that Bill Ogg had died June 15, 1945, in Clovis and was brought back to his family’s cemetery for burial, in Orrick, Mo., 13 miles south of Richmond. The cousin said, “It is 14 degrees below here this morning. Was happy to answer your question.”

Mrs. E. Boss Ogg died on or about Aug. 12, 1924, from an illness of about a week. She suffered from blood poisoning caused by a small cut on her hand. A New Jersey native, she came west a number of years ago, first locating at Tulsa, Okla., and Amarillo before moving to Melrose. She later came to Clovis. She was survived by five daughters of her own. At the time of Mrs. E. Boss Ogg’s death all her daughters were married and four of them were living in Bloomfield, N.J. Her fifth daughter, Mrs. Robert Lyons, was living in Freeport, Long Island.

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:
dmcalavy@telescopelab.com