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August 7, 2013

NOW SERVING MEMORIES: Jerry’s diner torn down after 50 years in Jeffersonville

JEFFERSONVILLE — For generations of Jeffersonville residents, hitting up the local diner meant getting a J-Boy platter at Jerry’s. For others, it was far more than that.

“It was my home, it was our home,” said Bonnie Nifong, a former Jerry’s waitress who worked at the restaurant since 1988.

She stood next to another former Jerry’s waitress, Donna Wariner, both with tears in their eyes early Wednesday morning as the building was being pulled to the ground.

Jerry’s Restaurant was torn down Wednesday, less than six months after a fire claimed the diner’s kitchen and temporarily closed the doors. The fire occurred in March, the same month that Jerry’s celebrated its 50th anniversary in Jeffersonville.

Property owner and Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said the damage that was done to the building was too much to recover from. And along with former employees and a few onlookers, the Moore family, which has owned the restaurant since the 1960s, watched as it was razed.

JERRY’S PAST

Charlie Moore, Mike’s father, went to work for Jerry’s Restaurant in Lexington, Ky., in the late 1950s after being discharged from the Army where he was a cook. He worked there for five years as a manager.

The Jeffersonville store was built in 1963 by John Woehrle and his then-business partner, and Charlie bought out the other owner and partnered with Woehrle later that year. For the next 50 years, the business was in the hands of the Moore family.

“It was good to us,” he said of the restaurant.

“We just have wonderful memories,” said Nancy Moore, Charlie’s wife. “It’s been a wonderful 50 years. We had good employees that were like family. They were good to us, we were good to them.

Some of those employees were actually family.

Nancy said at one point or another all four of the Moores’ children — Mary Alice Marconi, Karen Nedyidek, Chuck Moore and Mike — all worked in the restaurant.

But before the kids were old enough to work at the 10th Street business, Nancy would often load the kids into the station wagon and go to the drive-in where car hops would come out to take orders as a way to be able to see their father.

Mike said it was not uncommon for his dad to work 16 hour days, six-days-a-week. By the 1970s, the restaurant was open 24-hours-a-day. Mike said he thinks that’s part of the reason so many employees stuck around for so long, because his dad was always there working alongside them.

It wasn’t too long before the rest of the family got into the act.

Mike said he started bussing tables at the restaurant when he was about 13. Chuck, his older brother and former Clark County Councilman, said he was close to the same age when he started working at the restaurant.

Chuck added he worked off-and-on at Jerry’s throughout his life, even when Mike owned it, up until he took over as Jeffersonville mayor in 2012.

And when Chuck would act up as a teenager, his dad would literally dish out the punishment, making Chuck wash dishes during third shift.

“They didn’t like it,” Charlie said of his kids working at the restaurant.

But the employees he hired did.

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