The Lunch Baron: Gomer Tucker

Interesting Local Characters

Tucker Lunch, circa 1939

Tucker Lunch opened on 8 North Main in 1931. It was a popular spot, its chili was legendary.

Gomer Tucker announces a fourth restaurant opening, 1938

While a depression was raging, Tucker expanded to four locations by 1938!

Tucker Lunch, 21 S Main, 1940

When the building that would house Woolworth’s was being constructed, Tucker moved for a time to 21 S Main. By 1944, he had relocated to 6 North Main, just south of Woolworth’s.

First National Bank, circa 1950, Tucker Lunch was just north at 6 N Main. Thanks to Fredas Cook for the image.

Gomer Tucker leased the spot, and in 1955, he was forced out. He wasn’t terribly happy about it, as this letter to the editor attests.

Tucker cut some sort of deal with Jack Horner, and Woolworth’s completed their expansion by January 1, 1956.

Tucker relocated to 14 East Central. Tucker’s Restaurant stayed open until at least 1957, when he stopped advertising in the paper. By 1961, Martin’s Music inhabited the slot on Central. But his legendary chili was still sold in local grocery stores until the early 60’s.

1959 Stokes Grocery Ad for Tucker’s Chili

Gomer Tucker’s Chili Ad from Farrier’s IGA, 1959

Gomer also ran a vegetable stand in front of his highway 10 farm.

Newspaper Ad for Tucker’s Vegetable Stand

Tucker was a sportsman, the 1944 article below details a nice six-pounder caught at the three-year-old Grand Lake.

Gomer Tucker Catches a Nice Bass

In 1960, Tucker ran for Ottawa County sheriff. He lost in the primary to Ben Stanley.

He owned a familiar farm just east of the turnpike on Highway 10. It had several large ponds created by the turnpike builders at his request. Skating on them was a treasured tradition for Miami youngsters.

Gomer Tucker Invites Kids to Come Skate on His Frozen Ponds, 1958

Kids Skating on Gomer Tucker’s Pond, 1958

He touched lives in Miami. Note these observations:

Z Jane Osborn: Best chili ever and when you went in his cafe you smelled like chili the rest of the day. Hot tamale spread was my favorite! Late open at night. People parked in the middle of Main Street literally to eat there after whatever evening events they had. I mean very late!

Iven Wall: Mr Gomer Tucker was a man I admired a lot as a young kid. My dad, Wayne Wall, managed the dairy farm that he owned and we lived on the farm. He came out quite often in his new white Ford and drove thru the pastures checking the cattle. He was a very hard working man with two or three restaurants at that time. This must have been the middle ‘50s. He always stopped at the twin gates that led past the dairy barn and would give me fifty cents for each gate that I opened. I will never forget this man, not because of the 50 cents but for his kindnesses to our family and to many others in the Miami area.

Barbara Davidson: I worked in his restaurant. He was quite a guy. Best chili ever. I have his recipe. Lots of suet in it. That fat made it tasty. Not healthy but oh so good.

Gomer Tucker with Fishing Kids, 1958

Gomer passed sometime after 1961. If anyone can be more specific, including birth details, please use the site feedback form and let me know so I can update.

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