Arkie's cooking was well-known among friends and family before she entered the food service business. Her brother-in-law Elbert Wesley Hopkins, Sr., who previously operated a boarding house of his own, opened Hoppy's Sundry Shop at 410 North Palafox Street around 1946. They sold plate lunches cooked by Arkie for fifty-nine cents to switchboard operators at the nearby telephone exchange.
Inspired by the success of the Hoppy's venture, Arkie began her own boarding house in February 1949. She rented a building across the street at 415 North Palafox Street, between Belmont and LaRua Streets, renting the upstairs rooms and setting up the restaurant downstairs. In November 1951 she purchased her own building, the McGaughy House at 900 North Spring Street, and moved the business there. Arkie fell ill in 1954, and her sister Blanche Stubbs ran the business for 17 years.