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Maude Hopkins: ‘Landmarks’ are sometimes places… and people!

This story about local business owner Maude Hopkins is reprinted from an issue of the Farmington News originally published in July 1969. – Editor

A small town traditionally has institutions which have become intricate parts of the character of the community. Sometimes these memorabilia take the forms of old buildings, ancient parks or even people. Mrs. Maud Hopkins of Farmington is undisputably a “landmark” in this area.

In 1923, she and her husband, “Hoppie” opened their first restaurant at the foot of the courthouse where Robert’s Office Supply now stands. From there they moved to the Tetley Building near the Farmington News. Next, the cafe moved its quarters to another location, and then the spot of the First State Bank building became its home. Eventually, Maude’s mother sold the space and while the Hopkins continued to live there, Hoppie began building a home at the present location of Hopkin’s Cafe.

When the house was completed, she opened a small pie and sandwich shop which was later sold to a Mr. Pothetos. What many residents remember are the two buses where the Hopkins operated their restaurant for about three years until they opened Hopkins Home Cafe 18 years ago.

“We started during the depression. There wasn’t anything here — only the P.W.A.,” she commented.

“When it was first opened at the foot of the courthouse, it was called ‘Hopkins Home Cafe.’ We never sold Hopkins. Before my husband passed away he said, ‘Now, Maude, you can do as you like with the cafe. Sell it if you want, but don’t ever sell [the name] Hopkins,'” Maude recalled.

Probably as well-known as Hopkins Cafe, is Maude herself. After 39 years, she continues to supervise and do much of the cooking and all the baking. In addition to being considered a culinary expert, Maude is also reputed to have a frank and sometimes caustic temperament.

“I answer (customers) so they think that’s just it — whether it is or it isn’t,” she said regarding her occasional callousness.

Later she continued, “Be frank so they know you aren’t a little a little above them. I never try to leave the impression that I’m trying to cater to any certain class of people. If somebody is sick, crippled, or something like that, I’ll go out of my way, but not for those who are capable of waiting on themselves.”

Maude then noted the controversial absences of knives at the chuck wagon special every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. She explained that no knives are provided because they are heavy and extra utensils to wash. More importantly, with the usual Sunday menu of fried chicken, short ribs and vegetables, knives are not absolute necessities.

Customers frequently ask for knives, at which time Maude has been know to retort, “I’m afraid you’ll cut somebody’s throat with it” or “Didn’t you wash your hands?” The latter response was once followed by a customer’s, “Is that the way you do [when buttering bread]?” Maude quickly returned, “No, I generally use my fork.”

Becoming serious and rather cynical, Maude was hesitant about discussing today’s youth compared to those of many years ago. Although she agreed that there are “a lot of nice kids,” she doesn’t “believe hard luck stories anymore.”

“Some of the things youngsters do are so terrible, like stealing things and then shooting over it. I can’t help thinking it’s dope. Things like shooting over a robbery wouldn’t ordinarily happen in a small town like Farmington,” Maude considered.

She then turned to issues of the city and nation. “Farmington has quite a few problems. One thing I’m sorry about is when young people graduate, they have to go away to get employment. There just aren’t enough jobs, and they have to go someplace to do something.

“The hippies just don’t care about working, but only want to create excitement from their appearance. I don’t want to be bothered with them. If I had time to visit and talk with them I might do it. On the other hand, they might think I was an old crank, so I don’t bother,” she concluded.

“Maude” cuts one of her favorite pies.

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