Jerry's Restaurant closes

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Landmark News Service

Classic rock ‘n’ roll Christmas music played Wednesday at an iconic Elizabethtown restaurant, but no tables and chairs were set for customers.

Two moving trucks were parked outside Jerry’s Restaurant as two men loaded the remainder of the dining room chairs into one of them. A “closed” sign written on a scrap sheet of paper in orange marker hung on the door.

The restaurant closed following breakfast service Wednesday after five decades in operation.

Penny Davila, district manager for the restaurant chain, was speaking to another employee on the phone as the two attempted to find the breakers to shut off the lights.

“When you’re open 24 hours and never close...” she trailed off as she shrugged.

Davila said the company was choosing not to renew the lease on the building at 654 E. Dixie Ave.

“The lease was up,” she said. “This interstate exit is not like the other one.”

Randy Hawkins, a long-time customer who ate breakfast at the restaurant almost every day, said he may have been served its last cup of coffee.

“Several of us did meet out there every day,” he said. “They didn’t say anything to us. As people were leaving, they put the sign on the door.”

Hawkins remembered eating at the restaurant after being stationed at Fort Knox 40 years ago.

“It was the first place I ever ate at in Kentucky,” he said.

Francis Simpson, who ate breakfast at the restaurant on Saturdays, said he and friends would gather to “shoot the bull.”

“It was one of those typical coffee club groups,” he said. “We would figure out what happened last week and what’s going on this week. Everyone got their turn to tell something.”

Simpson was disappointed to hear of the closing from Hawkins, he said.

“I really hate to see it leave,” he said. “There’s no place to hang out on that end of town.”

Bernice Scott, who kept a scrapbook of her time working at the restaurant, was hired as a waitress when it first opened and said the restaurant benefited from what used to be the main interstate exit in the city.

The 13-year employee remembers when the business was “hopping,” partly because they were so busy and because there was a car hop in the rear of the restaurant.

“It was a good place to work,” she said. “I really liked it. If I could do it again, I would.”

She said business would remain steady when she came on at 6 p.m. for her shift until closing at midnight.

“Sometimes it would be so busy you couldn’t get out until 1 a.m.,” she said. “We didn’t mind. We were there to serve our customers.”

But gone were the days of busy dinner crowds, Hawkins said.

“We knew it was coming,” he said of the closure. “We knew it was having problems, but we weren’t expecting it to close.”