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Ward-Thomas Museum

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Ma Perkins Inn

Ward — Thomas Museum
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503 Brown Street Niles, Ohio 44446

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“Ma” Perkins Chicken Inn was started in 1938 to serve you folks who like real honest to goodness home cooking.

“Ma” Perkins Chicken Inn was started in 1938 to serve you folks who like real honest to goodness home cooking. We specialize in chicken dinners served either family or plate style. Steak & ham are also available. Started in a small farmhouse our growth has been rapid and we have expanded to accommodate weddings, parties, banquets, etc. up to 300. You will be delighted with a dinner at “Ma” Perkins. PO1.1151

Ma Perkins Inn.
From the book Dustin' the Cobwebs by Grace Allison.

On November 10, 1938, Clarence and Ruth Perkins opened their Ma Perkins Inn in a house that stood on the north side of U.S. 422, just east of Pineview Cemetery. The Gay Ninties Club later operated in the same building. A newspaper ad, placed by Ma Perkins Inn at that time , offered a milkshake or soda for one cent if the customer ordered their ‘Perkies Pups’ sandwich which was a giant hot dog with special sauce.

About six months later, Mr. and Mrs. Perkins bought the Stohl farm, on the west side of U.S. 422, just north of Bellwood Avenue, and moved their restaurant there.

Ruth did all the cooking; Clarence or Cy as his friends called him, did the hiring, killed the chickens, kept the books, advertised the business and greeted people when they came into the building and seated them.

The menu included ’50 cents for cream chicken-full course; 75 cents for a plate-style fried chicken dinner and one dollar for all the fried chicken you could eat.’

Eventually, the house next door was purchased and used as living quarters by the Perkins family. During WW11, when prices were frozen, Ruth and Cy raised their own chickens. They converted their garage into a butcher shop and dressed chickens to meet the needs at the inn.

Advertisement for original priced meals ‘Breakfast in Hollywood’ was a popular radio program during the 1940s and 1950s and Ruth and Cy sponsored a live radio program, “Party Time at Ma Perkins”, which aired on Warren’s radio station, WHHH at 2pm for a half-hour on Tuesday and Thursday. Between 200 and 250 women would show up for lunch on any one of those show days.

Ted Niemi was master of ceremonies and Edith Kempe played the piano. A prize was always given for the funniest hat brought in by the ladies and Ted and Cy always modeled the hats.

There was also a door prize for the person who had come the farthest for lunch- a box od vegetables and a live farm animal (a turkey, pig, rabbit, chicken or guinea hen) furnished by Durig’s market, a local produce market in the area of today’s Eastwood Mall.

In 1953, on its 15th anniversary, a celebration was held at the Ma Perkins Inn with meals being sold for 1938 prices.

Ten years later, in 1963, on its 25th anniversary, another celebration was held at Ma Perkins Inn, with meals being sold at the same price they had back in 1938. During the four-day celebration, 3,635 were served.

The Hat, located near the Ma Perkins Inn, is one of Ohio's most unique eating places, where chicken is cooked and served right, located on U.S. 422 between Niles and Warren, Ohio. PO1.1150

About 1950, the Perkins opened the Hat-O-Mat, a drive-in restaurant, just south of their Ma Perkins Inn, and a short distance north of Stambaugh-Thompson store (now HandyMan). Cars would line up on both sides of U.S. 422 to watch the moving eyes on the front of the building. Although no longer a restaurant, the building is still standing.

A close look at the postcard of the Hat-O-Mat shows that U.S. 422 was still paved with red brick during the early 1960s.

Although Ruth and Cy sold the Ma Perkins Inn in 1957, they didn’t retire but kept active in the food service business opening the ‘Turkey Heaven’ restaurant in Kinsman during the 1960s.

Later they resided in Transfer, PA., and during the early 1980s Ruth was drawn into the public limelight due to her folk art paintings. The book, American Folk Art of the Twentieth Century, by William C. Ketchum, Jr. and Jay Johnson illustrates one of Ruth’s folk art paintings, as well as one done by Clarence (Cy) and another created by their daughter.

Ma Perkins placemat


Placemat from Ma Perkins Chicken Inn, established 1938, featuring map and menu.

Trumbull Memory Project, accessed March 13, 2023,

To see the full version of both sides of the placemat, click the link below.

Ma Perkins menu

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