Hungry Farmer may be gone, but not forgotten by its former employees

       When the Hungry Farmer opened in 1969, it was mostly by itself on Garden of the Gods Road.
       “Back then, if the Air Force won a football game, they would come down here to celebrate,” recalled Wilma David, one of its past employees.

This photo was taken after the Hungry Farmer closed in 2003, but its basic exterior appearance at 575 Garden of the Gods Road had not yet changed. Two restaurants that followed kept the barn look, but by 2009 they had closed too. The Chick-fil-A fast-food chain razed all the old structures in 2010 and built a new store on the site.
Westside Pioneer file photo

       Nowadays, there are plenty of other eateries between the Air Force and Garden of the Gods Road and - after closing Nov. 2, 2003 - the Hungry Farmer isn't one of them. In 2009, the large, barn-styled building was demolished and a Chick-fil-A erected at 575 Garden of the Gods Road.
       But that doesn't mean the long-time. 11,000-square-foot full-service restaurant has been forgotten. A reunion of former employees is planned this Saturday, Oct. 8 at 5 p.m. at the Legends Golf Pub & Grill, 3350 N. Chestnut St.
       Anyone is welcome. “Hey if you were a regular customer or you ever worked there, we want you,” said chief organizer Shari Maggard, who worked at the Hungry Farmer 15 years and met her husband Jody there. “You're going to find somebody you'll know and remember old times.”
       Maggard, now the manager at Legends, and others have retained various mementoes of the old place. These include drink glasses, coffee mugs and even one of the long, farm-style dresses the waitresses wore. (Still at large is one of the outfits with suspenders that the waiters donned.)
       She's hopeful of seeing more than 100 people, based mainly on how many employees the place had, typically 80 at a time with naturally some turnover. “A number of us were there for 10, 15 or 25 years, and we've all stayed in contact with each other,” Maggard said. One of the reasons, she explained, was the Farmer policy of having regular staff outings.
       She did not know the original owner, who she said has passed on.
       David's main job through most of her 20 years at Hungry Farmer was baking cinnamon rolls. On a busy day, such as Memorial Day, with 1,200 customers, she would bake as many as 2,000 of them. “I thought I'd never get done,” she recalled. “My arms got so tired.”
       David - and the Hungry Farmer - gained some notoriety in 2001, when she got suspicious that a van parked by the neighboring Holiday Inn might belong to to some of the “Texas 7” escapees. It turned out she was right; they were apprehended, and she shared in the reward.
       Nowadays David still makes cinnamon rolls, butfor her church. She doesn't mind the work, she said, because as a volunteer, “Time doesn't matter.”

Westside Pioneer article