History of The Roanoker Restaurant

History of The Roanoker Restaurant


The Roanoker Restaurant, Since 1941 • 1 Restaurant in 5 Locations over 75 Years

The Roanoker Restaurant was started on July 1, 1941 at 11 South Jefferson Street in downtown Roanoke by Crafton Warren and two friends. They began as a limited partnership with $600.

World War II broke out 6 months later and both partners were called to other areas. Crafton and his wife Florence stayed and operated the Restaurant and served as civilian neighborhood volunteers and packed food to feed soldiers on troop trains stopping in Roanoke.

After the War, his partners sold their share to Crafton and the Roanoker continued to serve Good Food at Good Prices with a staff of 10 people and seating for 50 people. His cook, Cordelia “Knookie” Clarkson had 4 sisters who would all work at the Restaurant at one time or another. He was never sure which sister would show up each day, but one of them always did. At times the sisters would call their mother for advice and then write the recipe on the wall next to the phone. One night the landlord painted the Restaurant and all the recipes were lost, but only for a short time until they decided to write them in a note book.

Homemade buttermilk biscuits, sausage gravy, pies, fresh vegetables, meat loaf, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and corn sticks all made from scratch are still made the same way today, 75 years later. We have expanded our menu over the years to keep up with the eating trends and to satisfy our guests.

The Roanoker was in 3 locations downtown for 20 years, at Towers Shopping Center for 21 years and at our present location since 1982.

Crafton passed away in December 1982, just 11 months after we relocated to our present location. Florence passed away at age 92 in 2005.

E. C., Crafton’s son, who had worked at the Restaurant since age 8 took over ownership. The business continued to grow.

In 2005 E. C. decided to retire and turn the business over to “Butch” Craft who came to work in 1970 and had worked with E. C. for 38 years. He was still very much involved in the business until his sudden death in August, 2008.

We now employ 75 people and seat 300 people. We host many civic groups, church groups, business meetings, family reunions and all other Guests that give us the privilege of serving them.

We are locally owned and operated and actively support the Boys Scouts,Rescue Squad, Relay for Life and Families in need, our churches, and have sponsored little league baseball since 1967.

Butch and Sam
Sam and Butch
We continue the Roanoker tradition of good food at good prices. Our guests and staff make the history and we want every guest to feel good about eating with us.

Come join our family, enjoy some great food and make a little History while you’re here.

Renee "Butch" Craft, Owner
Samantha Craft, General Manager



Recognition for Years of Dedicated Service


Over the past 75 years, there have been many employees who were loyal and dedicated for many years; even decades. We cannot name everyone for fear of leaving someone out. These people are responsible for our success. They cooked the great food and provided the friendly service that has made our guests feel welcomed and well served. A business is truly only as good as it's employees make it.


Still employed and have served over 5 years are:


Over 40 Years: June Rogers


Over 35 Years: Diane Page


Over 30 Years: Gail DeHaesleer


Over 20 Years: Al Shapiro


Over 15 Years: Ann Catron, Patricia Gordon, Ward Olson, Jennifer Vincent, Jason Brizendine


Over 10 Years: T.J. Dorcus, Sarah Toner


Over 5 Years: Kara Wobensmith, Duane Taylor, Sandra Gale,

DeAndrae Martin, Lucy Matherly, Bobby McKay, Michael Morton, Irene Turner, Elbert Craighead, JD Hughes, Karen Lewis