Thursday, April 12, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 04/13/18
Featured image: Clarence Williams Sr., right, with his son, Clarence Williams Jr. | Courtesy Clarence Williams Jr.
For many area residents, memories of the corner of 19th Ave. and St. Charles Rd. will always be contoured by the taste of breakfast sandwiches and pancakes that were made at the Maywood Village Snack Shop, 62 S. 19th Ave. in Maywood.
The restaurant’s owner of over 40 years, Clarence Williams, died on April 10 after being diagnosed with parkinson’s disease roughly three years ago, according to his son, Clarence Williams Jr., who confirmed the death by phone on Thursday. Williams Sr. was 79 years old, his son said.
“That was my job ever since I could remember,” said the Williams Jr., 32. “I was basically raised there.”
For most of those four decades, Williams Sr. ran the shop with his wife, Betty, who died in 2009, their son said. The couple would grow the restaurant into a local institution.
“My dad used to have to get up like at three in the morning everyday,” Williams Jr. said. “He’d go in and get the restaurant setup and would open at 6 a.m. Before I was born, they would do the all day thing, including dinner.”
Williams Jr. said that the restaurant was similar to a community center, where people gathered for the food and the fellowship.
“Everybody wanted those steak sandwiches,” Williams Jr. recalled. “My mom used to make the caramel pound cakes and my dad made those sweet potato pies.”
Clarence Williams Sr. as a young man. | Clarence Williams Jr./Facebook
The main ingredient in whatever the couple cooked for the legions of customers who cycled in and out of their doors over the years was love.
When a customer could not afford to eat, the Williams would often “look out for them, anyway,” Clarence Jr. said, adding that the couple would tell patrons to pay for the meal later on.
“People always tell me that the restaurant was a peaceful place,” Williams Jr. said. “They felt like my mom and dad were like parents. They never got a nasty attitude with anyone and everybody who came through those doors felt like family. To this day, people still treat me like part of their family.”
At his Maywood church, Good Shepherd Church of God in Christ, Williams Sr. served in a variety of roles — from choir member to deacon, Clarence Jr. said., adding that the couple’s abiding faith would carry over into their work.
“My parents would pray for people in a second,” Williams Jr. said.
In 2014, Williams Sr. retired, leaving the constant duties of the shop to spend more time with his grandchildren and the people at his Maywood church.
In February of that year, some patrons gathered to hold a small celebration before he closed the establishment’s doors for good. A video recorded that day and later uploaded to Facebook shows Williams Sr. repeating what might have been a life mantra.
“God will make a way,” he said.
“I don’t care what you got or what you think you got, God will make a way … This place has been a blessing to me. Whatever you do, look to God.”
A memorial service for Clarence Williams Sr. will be Saturday, April 21, 11 a.m., at Good Shepherd COGIC, 715 S. 6th Ave. in Maywood. VFP
For more local news, ‘Like’ our Facebook page