TONTITOWN, Ark. — Jessie Bishop is the third generation of restauranteurs at Mama Z's Cafe in Tontitown.
"I was basically born into it," said Bishop. "It's very overwhelming. But it's very humbling. And I'm honored to be the next generation, the third generation to own and run this business."
"We've got the Zulpos next door that own Guido's and then there's Zulpos that own the gas station next to them. So yeah, we've got a whole cousin family of business owners," said Bishop. "I mean, we all enjoy being in that kitchen so much. It's where we thrive. It's where we're the happiest. And so I just think about Thanksgivings and Christmases. And all of us girls are usually in that kitchen doing something."
From the rolling and cutting in pasta making, to the secret spices in their sauce, Bishop is continuing the Zulpo creations originated from Mama Z herself.
"She was here forever. Forever. I think she grew up in this building," said Tim Armstrong, a regular at Mama Z's Cafe.
"My mom and my grandma started this restaurant. And I was all about born in that back area back there. So it's been in my blood from day one," Bishop said.
"The lasagna is simply my favorite lasagna I've ever had. Sorry, mom. And she knows it," said Ryan Barnard, a regular at Mama Z's Cafe.
"They’ve got a certain deal every day of the week... we just come out here, every darn near every day, for years," Armstrong said.
Bishop explained that her focus is to keep everything as it is, because "it's worked this way for 35 years." She has worked on gaining a social media presence for the restaurant and says they'll keep recipes the same. She does say they may add new things in the future or even consider expansion.
The third-generation owner explained that she's also ensuring her family and children are involved, because one day, it could be a fourth generation of restauranteurs at Mama Z's.
"It would make me so happy to have a business that I'm able to pass on to my kids if that's what they want to do, and just keep continuing this legacy that my grandma started for us in 1988," said Bishop.
Both Barnard and Armstrong encourage anyone that hasn't tried the cafe, to do so. Bishop said they'll invite anybody and everybody into their so-called home as if they were family.
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