10990 S. Hwy. 16
Zim’s Cafe is the namesake of the property’s founder, Marche “Zim” Zamitzski (later shortened to Zimicki), born in Pennsylvania 1897. Zim’s family moved to Thurber in the early 1900’s for work in the Thurber coal mines and by 1910 had relocated to Lyra (community formerly located between Mingus and Strawn). It is believed that young Zim was working in the mines by the age of 13. Zim later went off to fight in WW1 and after he returned, he and his father pooled their money and purchased 20 acres along the northern branch of Palo Pinto Creek.
Zim quickly capitalized on the property’s location along the busy Bankhead Highway for travelers headed from the east through Weatherford, Mineral Wells, Palo Pinto, Metcalf Gap, Strawn, Ranger, and eventually on out towards California who could use a “one shop stop” for fuel, food, ice, beverage, and rest.
Construction of “Zim’s Quality Beverages” began in the early 1920’s and with the help of family, major construction was completed in one year. First a gas station, then the addition of a restaurant, an ice house, Dr Pepper and Coca Cola Bottling Plant, and motor/travel courts, equipped with “all the modern services” at the time- electric lights, natural gas, and city water. The property housed a power plant with a large diesel motor to supply its own electricity (the building still stands today)
and also had access to well water.
When the highway (now I-20) connecting Weatherford and Ranger was completed in the 1930’s, it essentially killed Zim’s business catering to passers by, and he ventured into ranching.
In 1937, Zim sold the Bottling operation to M.L. King, who then moved the business to Ranger.
In 1960, the family built the two-story brick home that is just to the southwest of the facility (still in use and is now the residence of the current owners).
Zim passed away in 1962.
In 2007, Gary Cunningham and Diana Barrett discovered the shady oasis while in the area gathering information on Gary’s relatives who lived in Gordon and some of which are buried in the Gordon Cemetery. At the time, the buildings were boarded up and only one room was serviceable, last being used as an office by a local monument company.
After purchasing the property, Gary and Diana operated a farmer’s market at the location for 3 or 4 years before officially opening Zim’s Cafe on April 1st, 2017.
Gary and Diana maintain a large herb and vegetable garden onsite (organic for 10+ years), and house free range chickens for fresh eggs to produce and sustain their fresh menu items. They do not deep fry; instead use only olive oil and butter on the grill. Dining is available both inside or al fresco, where you’ll most likely be greeted by one of the property’s friendly, four-legged friends.
Among Gary’s many talents, he is also an accomplished potter and has his beautiful handmade pottery displayed for sale. It is also used in Zim’s food service.
Zim’s Cafe is on Highway 16 just north of the Strawn water tower and the newly restored Watson House. They are open Saturday and Sundays from 9am-2pm. CASH ONLY.
Stop by Zim’s for a delicious, homegrown brunch with lots of Strawn history and hospitality!
Related story: “Zim Zimicki’s Hard Work Fuels America’s Trip West” by Jeff Clark