By Conrad Dudderar
After more than 22 years and many faithful customers, a landmark Yukon Main Street eatery will soon close its doors.
Owner Mae Welliver has decided to sell her popular restaurant, Mae’s Home Cooking.
After working seven years at Sid’s Diner in Yukon, Welliver in late 1999 decided to buy the former Jimmy’s Egg at 505 E Main. After she secured financing through Yukon National Bank, she opened “Mae’s Place” on Jan. 4, 2000 – and soon attracted a following.
“I can’t tell you how much my customers mean to me,” Welliver said. “If they don’t come in, I call them or she (daughter Diana) calls them to see if they’re all right because they’re part of my life.
“These people here are my family.”
The hometown diner grew a customer base who supported Mae’s when times were tough.
The Yukon restaurateur recalls when her customers took up a collection totaling $500 to buy Welliver a new piece of kitchen equipment. And when Mae’s was negatively impacted during COVID-19 closures, loyal customers offered their money to keep the restaurant operating.
“I probably had 15 to 20 customers who came up to me and say, ‘Can you make your payment? If you can’t, we’ll help’,” Welliver related. “You just don’t find restaurants where people do that.”
Welliver has enjoyed running her own restaurant and getting to see so many satisfied customers – whether they come to eat a hearty breakfast or lunch, or just visit while drinking coffee.
Welliver had already gotten used to the hours while working at Sid’s Diner on Main Street. Some of Sid’s morning coffee drinkers followed her when she opened her own place.
It’s time for a well-earned break to travel and be with family.
“I’m getting too old, and I’ve got two ‘kids’ to raise,” said Welliver, referring to her great-grandsons Boston and Dodger. “I’ve had them for several years, but I want to spend the time I’ve got left with them and give them the best I can.
“And they want to go on a cruise, go to Minneapolis (Minnesota) where their grandpa lives and see the Mall of America.”
Interest in the Yukon Main Street restaurant site was great. Realtor Joe McKinney listed the building and parking lot for sale one afternoon – and had a buyer the next morning.
The sale is due to close March 24, and a Mexican restaurant is moving into the space.
“I am trying to talk them into serving breakfast,” Welliver noted.
Welliver is keeping the east side of the property, now a vacant field, just in case she eventually wants to open a coffee shop and/or sell onion-fried burgers.
As she prepares to close Mae’s Home Cooking, Welliver is reflecting fondly on her 22 years feeding Yukon at reasonable prices.
“I’ve always wanted this to be a place where people feel at home,” said the El Reno native, who’s lived in Yukon since 2007. “I’m cheaper than anybody in town, and everybody tells me I need to go up.
“But if I can pay my bills and pay my help, I don’t need to keep going up ‘sky-high’ (on prices) and ‘rip people off’.”
While many of her longtime, regular customers are griping because she’s closing her doors, Welliver is confident she’s made the right decision.
“It’s like leaving my family,” she said. “But I just feel like God’s telling me it’s time.
“He told me when to open it, and He’s telling me when to leave.”