Tuesday, October 17, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: A patron sipping coffee inside of Kathy’s Café in Maywood. | Sebastian Hidalgo
“I’ve had a lot of hungry days in my lifetime. That’s how I wound up in this business, basically,” said Dennis Moran, the owner of Kathy’s Café, 1008 S. 17th Ave. in Maywood, during a rare break from manning his kitchen last Sunday.
Moran’s restaurant has been a Maywood staple for over 30 years, said his daughter, Becky Saylor, who along with her sister, Dee Dee Saucedo, preside over the dining area, which for some customers, like Marguarita Daniels, has become an extension of their home.
The outside of Kathy’s on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. | Sebastian Hidalgo
“I’ve been coming here almost every day for three months,” Daniels said. “The food is good and they got good prices. I live in Chicago, but I used to stay out here on 21st and Madison. This is the first stop whenever I come out here. I woke up this morning and I told myself, ‘Let me get some Kathy’s Kitchen.’”
Moran came to Illinois from Kentucky when he was 12 years old, which is around the age when Saylor began helping to manager her father’s restaurant.
A waitress at Kathy’s tends to a customer. | Sebastian Hidalgo
“This picture right here is from when he was a little boy,” Saylor said, pointing at an old class photo showing no more than 40 students. “This was the whole school.”
When he arrived in Chicago, Moran was lost and homeless, his stomach empty. He found a laundromat on 112th and Michigan “out in Roseland” and slept there.
“That was my home, man,” he said. “I was so hungry. I got to 111th and Western and asked this lady if there was anything I could do. I was willing to work.”
The hands of Kathy’s owner and founder, Dennis Moran, who has built the restaurant into a Maywood staple.| Sebastian Hidalgo
The woman gave Moran a job that paid $25 a week and allowed him to rent out a room in her home.
“Things were really good. I’d go to the pool hall and blow all my money and had to borrow a quarter to take a bus to work. It was a lot of fun. I got a lot of experience,” he said, laughing.
Moran’s voice — big, croaky and contoured by a Kentucky twang — fills the room. So does his presence when he’s not in the back.
A photo of Moran inside of Kathy’s. | Sebastian Hidalgo
Before he could finish his story, an older woman walked by waitresses Maddy Rodriguez and Mary Nelson, greeting Moran behind the counter with a warm hug.
Our conversation was indefinitely interrupted as Moran followed the customer into the warmth of a half-full restaurant.
Patrons inside of Kathy’s on a rainy Sunday, Oct. 14. | Sebastian Hidalgo
A man was reading his paper while sipping coffee as if at his own kitchen table, Daniels struggled to stay warm in a coat she had borrowed from another customer, as if they were close cousins, Saylor bantered with a young child before giving her a free donut, as if the child were her own — Moran was in the middle of all of this. And he stayed there. VFP