As one walks to the counter to pay for freshly grilled burger, breakfast or must-have snack, it might seem that what you see is what you get at the Kad-E-Korner, a small, white-hued store in rural Greene County that has been there since the end of World War II. 

There’s more than meets the eye, however, at the place that was around during the days when a gallon of gas was procured with pennies. And while some things have changed with time, what haven’t gone up in price — but have increased in value — are the memories. 

Those you get for free.

Kade-E-Corner Springfield, MissouriPhotography by Ozarks Alive

“It’s just the people. Really the people,” says Martha Broughton, one of the stop’s owners. “People are like, ‘You have a business because you want to make money.’ It’s really not about the money. It’s really about the people and just experiencing getting to know each other. 

“This place is like people helping people, and we just need each other.” 

And Facebook comments agree:

“Best burgers you can have and the curly fries are phenomenal!!!!!,” writes one customer of the stop that’s located less than five miles from Fellows Lake. “Plus the homemade cobblers are to die for!!! We go at least twice a month! Also, in their convenience store are a lot of awesome old school candies that we always have to have on our way out! My family highly recommends!”

“I grew up a mile down the road,” shares another. “Every summer my siblings and I would walk down there to eat and get candy! Every time I come in the area I always stop to get nacho grande and table order of curly fries with side of cheese.”

Stopping at the corner 

Kad-E-Corner Springfield, Missouri

Photography by Ozarks Alive

You can see the grill from a table laden with memories, manifested through photos from beneath glass at a round glass table. More snapshots decorate a doorway, while other memories are tucked away in the fact people keep coming back.

“Everybody’s nice here and the food’s good,” says Clyde Nave, who sits and waits for his lunch on a recent Sunday. “And it’s only three miles from my house.” 

Nave is accompanied by Ted Thomas, who typically visits Kad-E-Korner multiple times every day. He has long supported the business, says Martha, by both his patronage and his willingness to help with repairs and work when needed.

“When something breaks, he’s always here to help us,” says Martha, who notes that he long worked in equipment maintenance. “From ceiling fans to toilets to ice makers, he’s here as a helping hand.”

The relationship is so strong between Ted and Kad-E-Korner that the Broughtons specifically get a newspaper at the store so it’s there for him to read.

“We love him like our grandpa,” says Martha. “Ted has been faithful to this business for many years. Everybody knows his name.”

A long legacy

Kad-E-Corner Springfield, MissouriPhotography by Ozarks Alive

The laminated menu smacks of simple, made-to-order goodness between the Queen City and Fair Grove that has evolved over nearly 80 years of business.

Just a few options include fresh curly fries (“our specialty!” the menu proclaims), Reubens, nachos (with pulled pork or grande-style that is topped with ground beef, melted cheese, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, black olives, sour cream, salsa), deep-fried green beans and quarter-pound burgers in a number of fashions.

And if walls around those dishes and their diners could talk, they would tell of different travelers and times, and of when traffic once buzzed by on what was formerly U.S. 65.

Kade-E-Corner Springfield, Missouri

Photography by Ozarks Alive

It went through a few — but not many — owners in the years since its start, each leaving their own mark on the business.

There were days when it was known as Albaugh Grocery. Later, it was owned by Winnie Dethleffsen, who lived on-site — as many storekeepers did in those days — and ran it for nearly 40 years as Winnie’s Apco. The name Kad-E-Korner came from former owners J.D. and Coleen Viefhaus, leading to the mention of “since 1998” in some places on branding even though the business has been around much longer.

The Broughtons weren’t necessarily looking for a business venture when they first walked into Kad-E-Korner, nor did they have experience running a store. John is a physician in Springfield, and Martha has spent years homeschooling and raising their children — after once working in marketing with Coca-Cola while living in her native Mexico.

Kade-E-Korner Springfield, MissouriPhoto courtesy of Kade-E-Korner

The latter has left her with a love of the brand, and a smile when she saw the stop’s vintage soda-sponsored sign out front.

The Broughtons first learned of the store while checking on bees they kept on property nearby, and the initial experience kept them coming back.

“One day, I was actually working on bees and my in-laws were coming,” says Martha, causing her to stop by the store to see if they had creamer — and, after a conversation with the former owner, another sale.

“I said, ‘I love your place. If you ever think of selling, please let me know,’” Martha recalls. “She said, ‘It’s yours. Here’s how much I want.’”

The deal wasn’t sealed quite as quickly as it came about — the COVID-19 pandemic evolved quickly thereafter — but when things settled down, the business was still for sale and the Broughtons bought it. 

Since they took over the store, the Broughtons have worked to upgrade in ways that enhance the experience but don’t fundamentally change it. The couple remodeled a room in back that people reserve for family functions. They’ve also recently added live music — no cover charge — on certain evenings to draw people together. 

“I’m planning on having that at least once a month,” notes Martha, who says that the events are tentatively set for the third Friday of each month. “We noticed that neighbors came, and they don’t have a yard, a place to gather, so it kind of puts everyone together. It was very enjoyable.”

Still sharing stories

Kade-E-Corner Springfield, MissouriPhotography by Ozarks Alive

You see stories in the stop, from faces peering from photos of the past to memories made in the moment. One is the Broughtons’ daughter, Daniela, sizzling burgers on that Sunday afternoon. Others come through Brigid Woods, who began working at the store more than two years ago alongside her sister.

“Honestly, everybody who works here is super nice and we get along pretty well,” says Woods on a pause from the lunch rush. “It’s a fun place to work. People are pretty cool, and you get really close to some of them who come in all the time.”

While some of those folks are neighbors, others feel a longer trip is worth the experience. 

“We drive 30 minutes to get here,” says Jeanie Bybee, who traveled with her husband to eat from the south side of Strafford. “There really isn’t any place like this (near where we live). It’s just a nice place — everybody’s really friendly.” 

Of course, smiles may feed the heart but they don’t satisfy the stomach. That’s served in other ways. 

“We love the fries,” says Jeanie.

Want to visit?

Kade-E-Korner Springfield, Missouri

Photography by Ozarks Alive

Kad-E-Korner is located at 2633 E. Shelby Road, Springfield. Click here to learn more about specials and upcoming events.

The creation of this story is funded by a partnership between Ozarks Alive and I Love Springfield, MO!, formally known as the Springfield Missouri Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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