Memaw’s Cafe in Hickman truly is food like mom cooks
One review says, “if you want good home cooking, follow the farmers.” At Memaw’s Cafe, you’ll find a mix of business people, families, church folk and, yes, farmers who have supported the restaurant over the years.
Owner Reena Williams took over the family business in 2015, which her parents, Billy Joe and Nettie Sue Jones, opened in 2001. They previously ran the Lower Bottom Grocery (formerly Council’s Grocery) on Great River Road, living in the house next door to the store.
“At the country store, mom cooked fried bologna and cheeseburgers, and I’d help her on the weekends and afternoons,” says Williams.
In 2001, her mom rented a building in Hickman and opened a restaurant called Memaw’s Cafe. “That’s what everyone calls mom,” says Williams. Around the same time, Williams lost her job, so she began working at the restaurant full time.
With a staff of four other employees, Williams is the main grill cook and her mom handles the deep fryer and prepares meals like the meatloaf.
Williams says her customers tell her they love the atmosphere and always feel welcome at Memaw’s. “When they walk in the door they feel like they are at home,” she says. The cafe seats 60, and Williams says “even though food is cooked to order, the wait is never long.”
Open Monday through Friday, you can order a hearty breakfast 5:45–9:30, or lunch 10:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Memaw’s stays open on Friday until 8 p.m. for dinner. They sometimes book private parties if they are after normal business hours.
Breakfast is a favorite of her customers, which includes the usual fare, plus homemade gravy with biscuits, hash browns, omelettes, grits, fried potatoes, pancakes and oatmeal. “The gravy is made from scratch. It’s seasoned, just like we cook from home,” says Williams.
Burgers are also a favorite. “People always talk about our cheeseburgers, made with fresh ground beef cooked on the grill,” says Williams. You can get them with everything—lettuce tomato, onion, pickle, mustard and mayo—and some people order them with slaw. There are singles and doubles, but Williams says she will prepare ever how many burgers on a sandwich that you think you can eat. “I have cooked triples and I have done a quad burger, and I have done six-patty burger!”
Every day for lunch offers up something different for customers. Williams says their most popular specials are on Monday and Thursday.
“On Monday our daily special is meatloaf, mashed potatoes, turnip greens, purple hull peas and fried cornbread,” says Williams.
Tuesday is hamburger steak, mashed potato, green bean corn and a roll.
Wednesday is hamburger steak or a fried pork chop, gravy and onions, skillet fried potatoes, white beans and fried cornbread. It alternates every other Wednesday, with fried okra or cabbage.
Thursday is country fried steak with white or brown gravy, skillet fried potatoes, macaroni and tomatoes, pinto beans and fried cornbread.
Friday is fish day: two catfish fillets served with white beans, salad dressing or vinegar slaw, fries, hushpuppies and onion rings.
The only evening that Memaw’s is open is Friday night, which is popular because you can order from four different entrees: catfish, ribeye steak, 1-inch thick grilled pork chop or smothered chicken.
Memaw’s serves several homemade desserts daily. “The most popular is the Hershey’s Syrup Cake, which we only serve on Fridays,” Williams says. “Another popular dessert is our Strawberry Cheesecake, available every day.” They also have cherry cheesecake, coconut cake, Butterfinger cake and strawberry cake, and sometimes coconut or chocolate pies.
“We have a lot of locals, but we also have a lot of people coming through town,” says Williams, as the restaurant is located on Hickman Street, or Great River Road, which goes straight through town.
“We are right along the Mississippi River and we have a ferry right down from the restaurant. There are a lot of people who come over from Missouri, and a lot up from Tennessee,” she says. And, they’ve also had people who rode motorcycles from eastern Kentucky to eat at Memaw’s.
“It’s a little country restaurant, nothing fancy, but everybody feels welcomed,” says Williams.
Located at 708 Catlett Street, Hickman, (270) 236-2004, Memaw’s Cafe is served by Gibson Electric Membership Corporation.