FRANKLIN – When Hilda “Mom” Ratliff found out her decades-old “Mom’s Restaurant” would have to close, lifelong customers and friends flooded to the spot for support.
Not to be outdone, the softspoken owner of the restaurant at the intersection of Ohio 741, 122 and 123 took the chance to turn decades of tradition into a chance to give back to the community.
Earlier this month, Ratliff donated more than $4,500 to the Miami Valley Hospital Foundation – money collected from customers, who signed dollar bills and hung them from the ceiling of her restaurant one at a time. The donation is in memory of daughter Connie Ratliff, who died of kidney failure in 2008.
Today, Mom’s continues the business begun in 1985 at a new location several miles away, and “Mom” says she’s happier than ever.
What kind of food do you offer?
“Oh my gosh it’s just amazing. We’ve got food like mama used to cook at home, a place that you can come and eat and enjoy the food,” she said. “We have all kinds of specials. We do open faced roast beef. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas, roast beef, corn. Fried chicken, chicken dumplings, soup, cornbread all the time.”
How did you get into the restaurant business?
“Well, I lived two doors over from the restaurant, and one day I walked in to get me a sandwich, and the lady that owned it then told me to go home and change clothes, because she needed a new waitress,” she said. “When she got married, she sold me everything in there for $1,500.”
What is your favorite part about your job?
“I like everything about it,” she said. “I was crushed when they told me they had to tear the old building down. I thought my life was over, but this is my life here now. It’s like family.”
“Saturday morning all the football players would show up,” she said. “People at some of these tables are coming here all the time. We’ve had people coming in for decades, and families.”
How did you get the name “Mom,” and what’s with the mugs hanging in your restaurant?
“Years ago, I managed a gas station in a bad neighborhood. The cops would come in with different beats; they called me mom down there. To control my inventory I had to keep track of every cup of coffee I gave the cops. They told me I had to call the place “Mom’s” and they gave me the first four mugs, one says ‘Mom,’ another ‘Hilda,’ another ‘Cop Coffee’ and the fourth ‘If Mom says no, ask Hilda.’ I hung them over the window of the restaurant and that’s how they got started. I’ve got 962 now.”
“I love it. I have no desire to stop.”
Hilda Ratliff, owner
Mom’s Restaurant, 1111 William C. Good Blvd., Franklin
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