Part of an interview Ruth Eppenger D'Hondt conducted by Claytee D. White on August 25, 2011. D'Hondt shares memories of her parents' restaurant.
Ruth Eppenger D'hondt oral history interview, 2011 August 25, 2012 July 9. OH-00446. [Audio recording] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Ve
Standardized Rights Statement
I want to start with your early life. Tell me where you grew up and what your parents did for a living. I grew up right here in Las Vegas on Jackson Street. We had a restaurant. My mother owned the restaurant, actually. My dad was a laborer for the Test Site it was called at that time, but he also helped out in the restaurant. We all worked in the restaurant as we grew old enough to work there. We had the restaurant for about 26 years. Tell me the name of the restaurant. It was my mom's name, Mattie's Cafe. What did you serve? What we called it in that time was just home cooking. It was a very popular place. The entire family ate there. And all of our vendors that came to bring supplies from all over, they would stop and eat there as well. It was a popular place. As a matter of fact, what I remember now of interest, once we started recruiting from UNLV ballplayers. They would come in. The coach would bring them over and they would buy a meal ticket so that they could be fed while they were getting their education. Apparently, it was some kind of a scholarship they were on because they were from out of town, young men, usually. I remember a couple of them. Describe the restaurant for me. Oh, it was very small and it had a counter with stools at the counter and booths. The kitchen was there in the back and that. But it was just like a cafe, old-type cafe. That's what it was. Describe a couple of the meals for me, some of the most popular meals. Well, the popular meals, of course, had to be the ones that—we'd have smothered steak. And the chicken and dressing was a staple for Sunday. You had to have that. And we had the baked ham. But they also did a lot of roast beef—I think they call it rump roast. They would have roast every day. You could have hot beef sandwiches with mashed potatoes or beef meal, beef with vegetables, candied yams, greens and cornbread. And, of course, you had tea. Iced tea and bottles of soft drinks. And we had lemonade and Kool-Aid. Most importantly, you had to have dessert. And that was the potato pie, banana pudding, pound cake. Every day you'd have to have some dessert with your meals. But we also served breakfast. It was open 24 hours for many years. So where on Jackson was it located? If I can remember the address, I would say about 400 Jackson Street. There's a vacant lot there now and there's a flat building right, the first building you see on Jackson at D. I would say that's about 400. So this is the block just before—if I'm going east-west, this is the block just before— Jackson. What is the name of the one casino that's left there? Oh, it's not on the Town Tavern end. It's on the D Street end.