Exposition (Initial Situation)
"There's a lot of cheese where you're going, Hope" (5)
Sixteen-year-old Hope and her aunt, Addie, are moving from Brooklyn, NY, to a small town in Wisconsin to start new jobs at the Welcome Stairways diner, owned and operated by G.T. Stoop. G.T.'s battling leukemia and has hired the young waitress and her guardian (who happens to be an excellent chef) to help run the small-town eatery.
Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)
G.T.'s been cooking up a plan
Before Hope and Addie have a chance to learn what's on the menu, G.T. announces his plan to run for mayor against the corrupt Eli Millstone, who's controlled the small town for the past eight years. No one has had the guts to run against Millstone before, but it's now or never for G.T.; he's determined to bring back honesty and goodness to Mulhoney before his time is up.
Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)
We demand a recount!
G.T. loses the election to Millstone by a little over a hundred votes. G.T.'s supporters are shocked, devastated...and suspicious. Sid Vole gets the governor of Wisconsin involved but there is no evidence of any wrong-doing.
"I'm not a crook." Oh, yes you are.
The truth is uncovered; Millstone rigged the election results and is forced to resign. G.T. is sworn into office and immediately begins righting all the wrongs in Mulhoney. He marries Addie, adopts Hope, and proves to be the best of "The Dads" that Hope's been dreaming of since she was a little girl.
I'll be back
A year and a half goes by when G.T.'s cancer returns. Within a few weeks it gets the best of him and Hope finds herself suffering her biggest loss yet. Despite her grief, she realizes that the tough times she's faced over the years were actually getting her ready to become G.T.'s daughter. Just before leaving for college, she writes HOPE WAS HERE under the counter in the diner. But unlike all the other times she's done so, she knows she'll be returning—returning home.