HAGAMAN — If you sent a friend to Hagaman and told them to find the place with the Texaco sign over one door, they'd find C.P.'s Family Restaurant, no problem.
The Montgomery County, village just outside the city of Amsterdam, is that small, yes -- but C.P.'s outside decorations are also that distinctive.
If visitors are impressed, just wait until they get inside.
The dining rooms are covered wall to rafter with displays of model cars and trucks, miniature trains including two that are operational on ceiling-height tracks, and gas station advertising signs and other transportation memorabilia. License plates come from all 50 states, Canada, and even Caribbean islands. Owners Chuck and Carol Phillips have collected them all at garage sales and auctions over the years.
"My kids used to collect my Hess trucks, that's how it started," said Chuck. "It got to be like a disease."
But the memorabilia isn't the main attraction at C.P.'s, which has occupied one of the oldest buildings in Hagaman, at 10 Main St., for the last 36 years.
The Phillips' serve classic diner-style American. In 2017, the bacon cheeseburger was declared among the best in the Capital Region in a Daily Gazette survey. But beyond the beef, turkey, pork loin and cold salad sandwiches are always on the lunch menu, and at dinner ranges from meatloaf and fried clams to a 16-oz. sirloin steak, all reasonably priced.
Then, there are weekly specials: There would be real trouble if chicken and biscuits aren't available on Thursdays, and every Sunday there are two specials that offer a complete meal, from soup or salad through dessert.
PHOTOS BY PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Pretty much everything is homemade, by owners who learned cooking on the job, and have been perfecting things for decades.
"All our (beef) patties are hand-made," said Chuck Phillips. "We make our own gravies, roast our own turkeys and pork."
They bake their own pies, too, with cream and fruit offerings always on the dessert menu.
For the Phillips, the "family" in the restaurant's name is literal. All four daughters worked in the restaurant growing up, and daughter Shannon continues, and is now a business partner. These days, grandchildren also pitch on.
For Chuck, launching the restaurant in 1983 was the next logical step in a life that has been all about food. A native of Hagaman, Phillips was still in grade school when he started washing out ice cream containers at Jim's Ice Cream, which was located next to the Chuctanunda Creek where Cronie's Restaurant is today, a football toss from C.P.'s.
PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Chuck and Carol Phillips at CP's Family Restaurant in Hagaman Tuesday, April 16, 2019.
Chuck and Carol, whom he has recently married, bought the ice cream shop in 1971 and opened a little restaurant, Chuck's Friendly Corner. After seven years they sold it and bought the building that houses C.P.'s. After some renovations they opened a 35-seat restaurant in 1983. It's expanded since then, and today has 99 seats.
"After 36 years in business, we still get new people," said Carol Phillips. "They'll come in and say, 'I've been driving by for years and never came in.'"
With its memorabilia, C.P.'s is jaw-dropping for gearheads, whether they're green behind the ears or old enough to remember Ford's Model A. To say nothing of train-buffs.
"Everyone says, 'Kids like trains,' and I say, the older ones do to," Chuck said.
More from Dine 2019: Montgomery, Fulton and Schoharie Counties
- Saltman's Hotel choice for servings of food, history in Fulton County
- Johnstown's Union Hall supplies contemporary American cuisine in Revolution-era setting
- Lanzi’s on the Lake in Mayfield is part of long family tradition
- Chef and owner of Broadalbin's SALT cooks outside the box
- Craft beer and craft food at Broadalbin's Project 29 Pub
Anything on the wall can provoke a nostalgic conversation. A poster from Willie Nelson and the Record Men's May 3 concert at Lincoln Street High School in Gloversville prompted speculation with a waitress about what year it would have been (in 1962, we think), and how long Gloversville High has been in Lincoln.
C.P.'s Family Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. Beer and wine are available.