Waitress at Hooks' favorite restaurant recalls his friendly spirit

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - He was a legend, a visionary and civil rights pioneer.  But the Reverend Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks was also a loyal customer, at The Cupboard restaurant on Union Avenue in Memphis.

Waitress Pamela Peyton spent the past 16 years serving Hooks his favorite country cooking, including hamburger steak and mashed potatoes.

"He used to come in like two or three times a week," she said.

When she reported to work Thursday, Peyton found out that her favorite customer had passed away.  To Peyton, Hooks was more of an inspiration than a patron.
"I just instantly felt good when he came around," she said.

And even when doctors told him to watch his diet, Hooks kept coming back.

"I was like his nutritionist when he found out he had diabetes," Peyton said. "I have a son with diabetes, so I could always fix him up a good meal."

Peyton said things at the Cupboard won't be the same without Ben Hooks at his favorite corner table.

"I loved him a whole lot," she said.

Mostly, she'll miss his priceless words of wisdom.  

"He was giving me advice all the time about my kids and their education," she said. "He was a really good person. He's gonna be missed a whole lot in this community. I know that."

Peyton said Hooks' wife, Frances, visited the restaurant last week and told her he was very sick.  While she was saddened by his death, the news was not a complete surprise.

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