Jimmie’s Restaurant Progress
Contributed by Jeff Harvey
PRINCETON - In the old days of Princeton, there were a number of restaurants where people could come in for food and companionship. Murphy’s Department Store, known for its lunch counter, Ferrell’s Diner, where the “10-Cent Millionaires” gathered, The Busy Bee, the Suzy-Q and the American Café, among others, served Princeton residents, along with out-of-town residents.
The last holdover from that era is Jimmie’s Restaurant at 839 Mercer St., the successor to The American Café and run by a branch of the same family, the Mosries, who came to Princeton a few years after the Virginian Railway from Lebanon.
Mona Mosrie, who works with her father, Jimmie’s Restaurant owner, Fouad Mosrie, and brother Gary, in the restaurant, said, “There’s not many places like this left. Many younger people don’t understand how many places like these there were downtown. There was the Virginian Hotel, Ferrell’s Diner, Woolwine’s, Brock’s, The Busy Bee, Murphy’s, Spangler’s and Hickman’s Drug Stores and The Suzy Q. We’re still here along with Wheby’s (Grocery) as a business still in the original family which hasn’t been changed for another purpose.”
The American Café, started by Sam Mosrie, a cousin of Mona’s grandfather “Jimmie”, in the 1920s, gave way to “Jimmie’s” when Jimmie took over in the 1950s, she said.
“He remodeled the building in 1957 and it’s had the same look ever since. We have the same booths, the same counter and the jukebox where you can get three songs for a quarter,” Mona said.
The meal has had to adjust to changing times, she said, as the entrees of the past have given way to sandwich combos for quick service.
“In 1957, our most expensive item was $2.50 for an entrée. A plate lunch was $.75- $.85 and a special dinner was $1.25,” she said.
Over the years, Jimmie’s has offered, among other items, steak and pork dinners, Virginia Ham dinners, seafood dinners, salads, hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bacon, eggs, toast, sausages, and pies, she said.
“We kept a full menu into the 1970s. In the 1980s, we began to cut down menu items,” she said.
The pies, she said, remain homemade, along with the chili, while the hamburger patties are freshly made every day.
“You never know when the busiest part of the day might be. Usually, we start slowly, then pick up through the day,” Mona said.
The patrons of the business, she said, often have decades of coming there.
“I’m 51 years old and I remember Earl and Nell (Nelrose) Price coming every day, which they still do. Earl used to run both the Mercer and the Lavon Theaters. In fact, they were at my dad’s and mom’s wedding,” she said.
Gary still runs deliveries to customers in the immediate area, she said. In the past, businesses such as Princeton TeleCable and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph Princeton Bureau were regular customers.
“Our customers are our friends. In some cases, then are like our family,” Mona said.
Fouad Mosrie said, “If people here would get together with one purpose, we could do for downtown what others have done for other parts of Princeton. This was the heart of town for many years. On Saturdays, people would come from everywhere in the county.”