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Grammy Award winner hopes to cook up new hit with DeLite Cafe
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Edwin Hawkins will be cooking up many of the family recipes for his soon-to-be-open DeLite Café at 1800 W. Yosemite Ave., Manteca. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Edwin Hawkins is cooking up what he hopes will be another smash hit.

But instead of a recording studio, the Ripon resident will soon be whipping up a cuisine with that gourmet soul flair.

“These are family recipes with influences from all over the country,” said Hawkins, who is a Grammy Award-winning gospel and R&B musician, composer and arranger.

He’s best known for his arrangement of “Oh Happy Day,” recorded by the Edwin Hawkins Singers over 40 years ago and selected to the Song of the Century list.

A prominent member of that group, Walter Hawkins – Edwin’s brother – died last July after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 61.

“The restaurant was our vision,” Edwin said Thursday as he prepared for next week’s official opening of the Hawkins Family DeLite Café. “Walter and I talked about (opening a restaurant) for years.

“He did most of the work even though he was sick.”

DeLite Café is located at 1800 W. Yosemite Ave., across from the Kaiser Manteca Medical Center, and is scheduled to open Tuesday for breakfast and lunch patrons.

“By the first of the year, we’re hoping to add a dinner menu,” Hawkins said.

Business hours will be from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.

His gourmet soul cuisine will include all-turkey meat loaf, lasagna and chili. “We can also do beef,” said Hawkins, who grew up in Oakland.

He and his family – included are three sisters, a niece, and his late brother, Walter – moved to Ripon about 8 years ago while passing through the Central Valley from the Bay Area.

“We were visiting Modesto and got the idea of getting a place together right here,” Hawkins said.

He and those same family members along with few close friends will be involved in the day-to-day operations of DeLite Café.

Breakfast will be offered from 7 to 11 a.m., and will consist of omelets, waffles, pancake, oatmeal, assorted cold cereals, and various side orders (sausage, ham, and bacon).

Desserts include Hawkins’ creation, cheesecake pie, and a homemade sweet potato pie.

The lunch menu offers homemade soups, salads, fried chicken, and sandwich choices named for various members of the family.

Speaking of family, Edwin Hawkins is opening the restaurant in memory of his brother.

“This is for Walter,” he said.

Hawkins hasn’t given up on his music. He continues to tour with the New Edwin Hawkins Singers.

“These are guys that I picked up here and there,” said Edwin Hawkins, who is scheduled to perform with his group in Chicago at the end of the month.

He’s amazed of the longevity of “Oh Happy Day,” with audiences from around the world and throughout the years often demanding for the Edwin Hawkins Singers to perform the song.

“We save that one for last,” Hawkins noted.

His arrangements of the song have been covered by numerous musicians and performed on the big screen. Most notably, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, in 1993, and this year’s “The Lottery Ticket.”

“I think these movies have re-introduced the song to another generation,” said Hawkins, who receives residual checks for use of “Oh Happy Day.”

He’s hoping that his DeLite Café will bring in more happy days.

The Hawkins Family DeLite Café can be reached by calling 209-665-4014.