Should I feel guilty for loving the Koffee Kup “Family Restaurant”? I’m not prone to hyperbole when it comes to restaurants, but the Koffee Kup Restaurant in Hico, Texas really is the best. For weeks after eating there for the first time, I literally dreamed about the food. The crux of the problem is this: The pie is SO GOOD! Its sweetness almost trumps any guilty doubt I have about eating there.
Why do I feel guilty? Unfortunately, this restaurant and Hico have a little history. The name was “Koffee Kup Kafe” until a few years ago, which is alleged to be a not-so-subtle reference to the Ku Klux Klan. In fact the prevailing rumor is that the Klan used to (or may still) meet there. It seems Hico had earned a reputation over the past 150 years for being racist, troglodytic, and fundamentally frenzied. One of my co-workers who is a person of color has told a story about attempting to pay for gas in Hico only to have the attendant ignore her. This might seem like a simple miscommunication if it wasn’t for the fact that the attendant was sitting across the counter from her, an arm’s length away.
But progress has been made the past few years. The “Koffee Kup” only has two K’s on the sign now. On the bank in Hico they used to have a mural of a lynching scene, but they’ve removed it. On my last visit, I took some solace in the fact that our waitress was Latina. Still I couldn’t help but notice that she was by far the tannest person there. The pictures on the wall and the décor are kitschy and country, including an amazing collection of salt and pepper shakers and some photographs depicting a flood on the Brazos as well as a historic Baptist revival on the river. There’s no indication other than the remaining two K’s in the name that there was ever any association with organized racism.
Maybe they should change the way they market their pie to show a new spirit of ethnic inclusiveness. They could have new flavors like African Apple, Mulatto Meringue, Latino Lemon, Caucasian Coconut, or even Mixed-Heritage Mince. That might assuage some of my latent guilt.
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