Take All You Want. Eat All You Take.
The title above was on a sign attached near the cash register as a reminder for those whose eyes were bigger than their bellies. Roy’s Chuckwagon was a family pleaser, as it fed teenagers with bottomless stomachs, finicky children, moms wanting a break from the kitchen, and dads needing to make everyone happy while following a budget.
Owner and founder of this popular western-style smorgasbord, Roy Weisenberger opened the Walla Walla restaurant in 1967 at the location known by the locals as the “Big Y,” a shopping center near the fork in the road on Rose Street and Wallula Road.
The all-you-can-eat hot entrees changed almost daily, but always consistent was the cold table, with a variety of salads like macaroni and potato, and sides such as Jell-O, cottage cheese, and vegetable garnishes. The restaurant offered baron of beef, ham, and chicken various days of the week – and, of course, Fish on Friday evenings were popular with those keeping their holy observance of abstaining from meat on Friday. The menu included fried fish, prawns, oysters, sometimes crab legs. And for the kids, there were many desserts to choose from, like fruit cobblers, pies, and puddings.
Roy understood families and how youngsters dined, so children’s prices depended on their age: 10 cents per year up to the age of 10 – a 10-year-old could eat for a buck. Then there was the kid who was 8 years old, who looked like a 5 year old, but ate like a 10 year old …
In 1984, Roy’s manager, Floyd Harris, died. After a few rocky years with different managers, eventually the business was put up for sale – but with no takers. Walla Walla’s Roy’s Chuckwagon equipment was auctioned to the highest bidder on July 13, 1987. “Wagons! Onward ho!”
By Catie McIntyre Walker