Customers at the Farris Cafe get more than food — they’re also serenaded by the cook. He even takes requests.



Matt Hood, 31, has been cooking at the cafe for around five years. His mother, Warnetta Raye Gough, is the owner.

Customers at the Farris Cafe get more than food — they’re also serenaded by the cook. He even takes requests.

Matt Hood, 31, has been cooking at the cafe for around five years. His mother, Warnetta Raye Gough, is the owner.

Hood said singing actually helps him function more efficiently in the kitchen.

“Usually when we’re real busy, the singing helps me focus more,” he said. “I work to the beat of the music. If I don’t sing during the process, I end up over-thinking my food. My food is not fast food — it’s good food fast.”

Hood is self-taught in both cooking and singing.

“I’ll buy a CD of greatest hits and burn it out,” he said.

Elvis Presley is a favorite, and Hood even grew out his sideburns to resemble Elvis.

“I went to Graceland and I loved it,” he said, “but I was kind of disappointed because it’s so little.”

His favorite song is “I Can Dream.”

“I get a lot of requests for that one,” Hood said.

His mother said she started working as a waitress at the Farris Cafe in 1990 while it was owned by the late Henry Farris and his wife, Betty.

“They were good people, and Henry taught me a lot,” Gough said. “I took over the business on July 1, 2002.”

“I volunteered to work for free for the first two months, just to get the hang of it,” her son said.

“He’s been my only cook, and he’s made a lot of sacrifices for the business,” Gough said.

The cafe is open from 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., which means a lot of early mornings and a lot of work.

“Everything is hand-made,” Hood said. “I hand-bread my country fried steak, make my own cinnamon rolls and bread, and the mashed potatoes are real. The only thing frozen is the chicken breasts.”

“It’s an all-day affair to make these cinnamon rolls, and Matt makes the bread now because my arms get so tired,” Gough said.

Hood said he’s still using the same menu as he did five years ago.

“But I’m still improving it,” he said. “I’ve got a new cast iron skillet, and I don’t know how I did steaks without it.”

He may get his cooking ability from his mother.

“There were seven kids in the family, and I was the oldest girl,” Gough said. “I started cooking as soon as I was tall enough, and I think my mom and dad may have lowered the stove.”

The cafe has many faithful customers, including Judy Bennett, who comes for both the food and the music.

“I used to sing with a band in Kansas City and I love music,” she said. “I noticed Matt singing in the kitchen, and he’s really good. Plus, his omelets are out of this world. When my sister and I go out for breakfast, this is where we come.”

But Gough and Bennett aren’t sure if they’ll be at 908 E. Fourth much longer, because the building is up for sale.

“We’ll either have to buy this building, or find a new location,” Gough said.

She hasn’t made her decision yet, but loves the restaurant business and wants to continue working in it. So does her son.

“I don’t work for the pay,” Hood said. “I work for the satisfaction, I work for the customers, and I work for the future.”