As you walk into Mama’s Boy, you are immediately met with a warm and comforting atmosphere that will remind any Southerner of home. Founded in 2006, Mama’s Boy has since become a staple breakfast/brunch spot for locals in Athens and a must-try for those passing through.

Believe it or not, Mama’s Boy was not always a brunch staple; it was not until after a few years of being open that they found their rhythm in specializing in brunch. According to Cooper Hudson, co-owner and co-founder of Mama’s Boy, the restaurant was originally breakfast, lunch, and dinner with three different menus, but then they transitioned to just a combined brunch menu and added catering.

This decision proved wildly successful, and ever since, they have continued to attract an ever growing and loyal customer base. In 2017, Mama’s Boy opened a second location at The Falls of Oconee in addition to their original Downtown Athens location.

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Cooper Hudson over breakfast at their new location about the various aspects of founding and owning a restaurant. She made it such a pleasant and insightful experience, and I highly suggest to anyone who visits Mama’s Boy to come with an empty stomach.

Grace Vigtel

Spoon: What inspired you to start Mama’s Boy?

Cooper: My business partner and I worked at restaurants for a long time, but we met working at Last Resort. We met before that, but we worked together there, and I had been working at another restaurant as the manager and left that job and was trying to figure out what I was going to do next. We decided we were going to open a restaurant.

Spoon: What inspired the name Mama’s Boy?

Cooper: We couldn’t come up with a name. We had menus drawn. The graphic designer was trying to give us a logo, but we had no name. We kept kicking around names, but we could not agree on one. We tried everything to get a name. Then Alicia was watching an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and there was a restaurant called Mama’s Boy. We decided that that name fit. I think at the time we thought too Alicia’s father had passed away exactly one year ago the day we opened. Her mom used to always tease her dad and say that he was a mama’s boy so it was a little bit of that as well.

Spoon: How involved are you in creating the recipes?              Cooper: Not at all anymore. The original menu we had is not that different than what we have now. The banana bread was maybe at the time Mitchell’s girlfriend. Alicia came up with the biscuit recipe, but we have an executive chef now. There are some family recipes in there, and for catering, we often use family recipes for that, not just our family, sometimes the client’s family

Spoon: Do you have a favorite menu item?

Cooper: I tend to eat the same thing every time. I usually get the Mill Town Breakfast when I eat.

Grace Vigtel

Spoon: What are some of your other favorite restaurants around Athens?

Cooper: My favorite restaurant is actually in Clayton, Georgia. It’s Fortify, it’s fabulous and I love it! In town, I love the National, Five and Ten, Seabear, and Last Resort.

Spoon: How did you respond to the COVID pandemic?

Cooper: Everything changed. I would say overall I don’t have a whole lot of complaints about COVID. I mean it was not awesome. It was crazy because we do so many weddings. I was on the phone solid for like six day rescheduling and canceling then rescheduling and canceling again. It was nuts. Then restaurants were closed so Alicia was dealing with all the employees making sure they were getting unemployment or paid or however we were going to do it. Then once we quarantined, I got to tell you that was awesome. I hadn’t had six weeks off since I was fourteen years old. It was great and terrifying.

Spoon: Do you enjoy the wedding aspect of your job?

Cooper: Mostly, yes. I like physical labor a lot. I get really exhausted by mental labor, and I do it. I have to do it, but any day of the week, I would prefer carrying heavy things a mile away in a field than answering an email. The restaurant gets to be deja vu all day. It’s the same thing over and over. The weddings you never know where you’re going to be or what’s going to happen. As much as I don’t love working fourteen hours every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the work itself I prefer.

Spoon: What has been the hardest challenge for you so far and how did you overcome it?

Cooper: Every day is a unique new treasure of challenge. Honestly, probably the hardest challenge for me is when I feel like we try so hard to make everybody happy and reading a negative Yelp review just destroys me. You would have a thousand happy customers, and then get one person who is angry, and sometimes, it has nothing to do with us. You know though, it’s so rare. Most people are so nice even when you make a mistake. I think I have turned the corner, but it is very hard. That might be part of the reason I like weddings so much. There is so much pre-planning and discussion that you know what is important. It is easy to meet those expectations since you plan for them beforehand. Those reviews are brutal, but I think the overcoming of it, for me, is starting by not reading them. Now, I can read them with little effect.

Spoon: Did you go to college? If so, what was your major?

Cooper: I did. Alicia and I both went to UGA. I was an advertising and Spanish major, and she was a women's studies and English major.

Spoon: Do you have a favorite food?

Cooper: Oysters. I grew up on the coast so most seafood is comfort food to me. 

Grace Vigtel