The Lost Maples Café is a hometown gathering place and oldtime country café owned by Rusty and Tacy Redden of Utopia.
While the Reddens had a grocery store and still have a meat plant in Utopia, Tacy Redden says that the restaurant is her favorite.
Redden took her love of cooking and people and made the Lost Maples Café a stopping point for visitors and locals.
Even though most businesses have slowed considerably, the café has been busy, according to Redden.
“The country atmosphere makes it appealing to most people and it has been really busy lately,” she stated. “I like cooking for people.”
While she admitted it is hard to find staff for the location, Redden said she is proud of the number of Utopia teens that have worked for her, adding that working in a restaurant is a great place for kids to learn about customer service and hard work.
The Lost Maples Café is a village hub where the community meets to share news and local gossip. A table of locals meet every morning to have coffee.
The cafe’s clientele is loyal. They come to visit and have pie, the restaurant’s specialty. They also come for a generous, well-prepared lunch.
Redden takes pride that much of her menu is homemade, even down to the breading on the chicken strips and the chili on the enchiladas.
That homemade taste cannot be duplicated by premade foods, insists Redden. She agrees that making everything homemade is a lot more work but sees it as her recipe for success.
While most of her clientele are “meat and potatoes” eaters, Redden has gradually added some expanded offerings to her menu like lamb sliders and chops.
“People are more conscious of what they eat now than when I started back in the 80s,” says Redden.
Redden has seen many Utopia citizens grow up right before her eyes.
She has seen adults who came to eat as children bring their families to the restaurant for a meal out.
She sees a lot of tourists from Garner State Park and the Frio River area stop by to sample her home cooking.
Many motorcyclists also stop by as a break on their rides through the Hill Country.
“They are really friendly and a lot of fun,” she said.
Redden admits that some of her fondest memories are of the movie people who came to film the movie “Seven Days in Utopia” in 2010. Many of the crew ate at the restaurant during the filming. She tells stories about Robert Duvall eating at the Café.
She also remembers that the whole crew was pleasant and respectful. It was a particularly hot summer during the filming, but nobody lost their temper, and all behaved as true professionals.
The Lost Maples Café in Utopia has had a long and varied history.
It was built by the Masons in 1907 as a doctor’s office and pharmacy for the community. The Masons met upstairs, and the pharmacy was downstairs.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the building became a restaurant called Galloways.
A remodel in the 1960s widened the windows and saved an ancient pecan tree which the restaurant has built around.
The restaurant was bought by its current owners Rusty and Tacy Redden in 1986. The latest remodel was in 1996 when the Redden’s expanded the kitchen and dining area.
Redden smiled when asked about her plans for the future.
“I don’t plan on changing anything,” she stated. “When you love your work like I do, it becomes part of you.”