Headquarters Restaurant has been a part of the Maricopa community for nearly 70 years. And since opening, the restaurant's reputation for good food, service and as a meeting place for the community has kept it thriving.
The restaurant, started by Ed Farrell in the 1950s, began as space for people in the Maricopa community to gather together. Though it was initially only a bar, Farrell added on the restaurant portion in 1953 — along with a club room for meetings, wedding receptions and more — when rebuilding after a fire.
Prior to the Headquarters, Maricopa residents mostly held meetings in people's living rooms.
Alma Farrell, now the owner of Headquarters, first came to the restaurant when she was about 7 years old. She and her family then moved to Maricopa when she was a high school freshman.
She said the legacy of Headquarters is the food. The restaurant makes it mostly all themselves, with around 98% of the menu items sold coming from family recipes.
In 1970, Farrell and her husband inherited the business when her father-in-law, Ed, died. In the time since, much about Maricopa has changed as the community has continued to grow.
Alma said it's challenging going from a small community to a fairly large city as it's easy to get accustomed to having the same people come into the business. When new people arrive, their expectations might be different.
"It's just learning to accept and know the new people that come in and make them as welcome as you made everybody else feel," she said.
Another challenge has been competing with the host of new sit-down and fast food restaurants that have come into the city recently, many of which — Alma noted — are dominated by big companies creating a "splash" in the community.
"We've been, I think, fairly successful," she said. "A lot of people still come into Headquarters and (if) it's the first time they've come in, they say, 'I'll be back.'"
In more recent years, COVID-19 created another hurdle for the family-owned cafe. Though Alma hopes COVID will end soon, until then, the pandemic has resulted in plenty of changes, especially with the vendors. Sometimes, she noted, it's difficult to keep up.
Challenges posed by the spread of the coronavirus also collided with a series of other changes happening in the community. Chief among them was completion of the overpass construction, which she refers to as the "Great Separation" — a term given to the overpass because it created some division between the Heritage areas of Maricopa and a large portion of the rest of the city.
Everyone in "old town" Maricopa knew how to get wherever they needed to go, she noted, but newcomers often don't know what's on the other side of State Route 347.
As more people began to rediscover the western side of the city, those living in the area began to notice increased traffic — which hasn't made some of the residents of the area too happy, she said.
But despite the issues that have come and gone over the years, Alma said she's glad to still be around to see Maricopa grow to its 20th year of incorporation.
She's even more pleased to know that Headquarters has managed to weather the growth, noting that as the city grew, many businesses were "shot out" of the area, but not Headquarters.
"Headquarters has tried to grow with the town and be a part of the town," she said.
In the next 20 years for the city, and her business, she hopes for continued success. And while it's sometimes been a difficult road since owning Headquarters, Alma said she has enjoyed getting to communicate and know the people who walk in the doors.
"When you're part of a business, a part of you is out there and so as long as I have part of me out there with my business, that makes me happy," she said.