JR Hopkin is excited about a lot of changes in his future, most of all a new baby to arrive in early October. In addition to his bundle of joy, Hopkin plans on a change of occupations. After 8 years of serving Morgan delicious cooked-to-order burgers and fries, Hopkin has decided to hand the torch over to someone else. Hopkin plans to sell Steph’s to local businessman Blane Smith. This will be the first time since the business has opened in 1957 that someone outside the family has owned the establishment. After several years of deliberation of changing careers and business ownership, Hopkin saw an opportunity to sell Steph’s to someone who he feels would care about the business and its customers. As Smith worked tirelessly to open Pretzelmaker, his new food establishment next door, Hopkin was impressed with his work ethic. I can’t stress how impressed I’ve been with him, Hopkin said of Smith and his family arriving early in the morning and working into the evening. Taking into consideration work hours, past goals, finances and a new baby, Hopkin discussed the business extensively with his family to determine the fate of the drive in. As extended family members all weighed in on the matter, he found the timing right to move forward with his goal of changing ownership. Hopkin approached Smith to see if he would have interest in purchasing the Morgan icon. Smith readily agreed and was excited about the opportunity to own the eatery. The two have an amicable relationship, although a bit distant. They have cooperated on different issues of sharing tight parking space. Smith has asked for Hopkin’s approval and opinion on various matters of business even prior to the agreement including cement barriers and defining the parking lot. Hopkins felt it would be best to give Smith the first opportunity to buy the business. The two definitely appear to stay away from dictating each other’s business plans. Smith wants to make sure Hopkin is able to run Steph’s the way he wants until they change ownership and Hopkin knows very little of the details of what Smith plans to do, only that he plans to continue to serve Morgan delicious fast food and ice cream. Smith has decades of savvy business experience in serving delicious food to customers and is excited for the chance to own the fast food joint. Once the business becomes his, Smith plans to shut the restaurant for approximately two months while the inside undergoes major remodeling. He has determined that simplifying the menu will help eliminate wait time and give customers faster service. Hopkin has worked hard to continue the legacy of his grandfather Jay Hopkin and aunt Steph in owning the drive in, as many locals refer to it. The local restaurant has been part of Morgan for nearly six decades and has celebrated birthdays, game days and first dates with countless Morgan residents. Hopkin has especially enjoyed all the relationships he has made and continued with Steph’s. He has enjoyed being a part of people’s lives and getting to know the community better. He found his relationship with his family has grown deeper as they have worked together in the business. Residents that remember going to the drive in with their grandparents now bring in their children for ice cream or a tangee. Spending nearly his entire life living in our valley, Smith also has many fond memories of the establishment. The duo established the sell and transfer to take place either the end of December or the first of January when the transaction will be finalized and become official.
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