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Jerry's Drive-in Restaurant Pensacola Fl
A piece of Americana becomes the American dream
Some kids dream of becoming jet pilots, others of being astronauts, but Jimmy Halstead's boyhood dream was a little different. Jimmy liked hanging out at the local Burger joint, "Jerry's drive in" , maybe it was because of the great food, or it could have been for the people, ( after all that's where all his friends hung out too). Whatever the reason, Jimmy's childhood dream was to one day own his old hang out and run it himself. About fifteen years ago that dream became a reality, ever since he was a kid Jimmy would tell the, then owners, "One day, I'm gonna buy this place", so when he walked in to the restaurant on that not so long ago day the owner said, " Make me an offer";the rest as they say is history.
A food foraging expedition
I recently took a drive down to Pensacola with my family to spend a few days in the sun. While we were there a rain storm interrupted our play so we set out looking for something to do, Pensacola is full of fun and exciting things to do, many of which are free (but that's another hub). It doesn't take much summer fun to work up an appetite, soon we were all famished. Fed up ( no pun intended) with the prepackaged coronaries that the chain fast food joints offered; I asked my wife, Katrina to find us a local place to eat. She grabbed the smart phone and began to google, it wasn't long till she got that "Eureka" look on her face, grabbed the keys and said let's go.
We soon found ourselves in the middle of old Pensacola, everyone but her oblivious to where we were headed. "What's the name of this place again, and is it within budget?" I queried. "Oh shush, trust me, I promise you will love it." She reassured me. I admit I am a bit of a worry wart when it comes to the budget, especially when it involves food. Any time you exceed $10.00 a person for food and drink when feeding a family of four you're pushing it ( at least on my budget anyway). As I explained to my family my goal was simple, Good food, in a clean place, at a fair price, and good service is always a plus.
Soon we arrived at the corner of E.Cervantes and Perry St. stopping for the light my wife pointed to a yellow building on the right with a big sign that read "Jerry's Drive in" ."Parking's in the rear" she said smiling as we made the corner. We turned in to the spacious parking lot shaded by beautiful ancient live oaks behind the building. "I hope you have cash she teased as we were getting out of the car, "Jerry's doesn't take credit cards."
Jerry's Drive In
We arrived around 1:30 in the afternoon, so I was surprised to see a line waiting to get in as we entered the building, I was even more surprised to see that the place was literally packed that late on a Friday afternoon. I must admit the wait was a pleasant one, the rear entrance was a nice sized corridor with adequate seating, an ATM, and a small arcade area for the kids.
We were scarcely in the door when the young man behind the counter asked how many was in our party, Four we said and were told it would be just a few minutes. Since Jerry's is a bar and grill we were offered a seat at the bar but we respectively declined. Our wait was just long enough for the kids to pick my pockets of all the change I had to feed to the arcade machines.(hum "Ya know I bet they planned it that way").
Soon our smiling server lead us to a spacious booth, took our drink orders and gave us menus. I was shocked when I opened the menu, fully dressed burgers starting at "UNDER" $3.00! Then there were french fries, fried pickles, onion rings and rootbeer floats, all at very affordable prices. True, there were no "Happy meals" filled with heat lamp burgers and cheap toys, but I was already happy from just looking at the prices.
There I was, absorbed in all that good looking food on the menu; Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bacon cheeseburgers to go along with all those great sides I mentioned earlier; to top it all off, Jerry's also offers great lunch specials and dinner plates (some featuring that great gulf seafood) at a great price. The one thing you won't find on Jerry's burger menu is small, medium, or large, that's because Jerry's burgers go up, not out. You can enjoy however a single, double, or triple burger made just the way you like it.
The dinner plates were tempting, but I came for a burger and onion rings and that's what I was going to get. The sign out front said "Home of the original Bacon Cheeseburger", now that just happens to be my favorite burger, so I made a silent challenge; "Let's just see how original this BCB is " . I got a single, because well, 1. I wasn't sure how good it would be and I hate to waste food, 2. I have that weight issue I am constantly battling.
While we waited on our food we were entertained by the many little plaques with neat and funny sayings on them, such as "He who depends on others is bound to be disappointed." I was very pleased with how clean and tidy the place was for having been so busy, there were no dirty dishes or soiled napkins lying about, the floor was kept swept clean and there was no odor but the aroma of great food.
After a short wait our food arrived, "Ah, at last the moment I had been waiting for, a taste of that hot, juicy, burger!" I almost got my hand popped for trying to take a bite before we said grace. It was delicious! A real beef burger, fresh lettuce and tomato and bacon cooked to absolute perfection!( even better with a little of Katrina's chili off her chili cheese fries).
The onion rings were also homemade and wonderful, everyone seemed to love what they ordered and the waitress kept our glasses full. Jerry's also offers desserts but, "Who had room?" I am a slow eater but I will confess, I savored my lunch on that day not wanting it to end.
At the end of the this Friday, food and fun expedition, I got everything I asked for and then some. When I went up to pay the bill, I asked who the owner was and if I could speak to him.(As it is my practice to never say "I a writing a review about your business until I am leaving"). The young man at the counter said "Sure." and went to find him while I was paying my bill. In a moment he returned with a smile and said, "Mr Jimmy is in the Kitchen, you are welcome to walk back there if you like."
"Wow, my first time here, he's never met me but he invites me into his kitchen." The lad led me back around the bar to the kitchen, there in his apron stood Jimmy Halstead living out his childhood dream. I stopped for a moment and looked around the large, stainless, steel kitchen, the floors were worn by many years of foot traffic but otherwise this kitchen even with a rush was immaculate. The kitchen staff was also to be bragged on, all were hair netted,or capped and all wore food service gloves.
I introduced myself as a writer and explained that I was going to do a review of his restaurant, to which he confidently smiled and thanked me. I hung out with Jimmy for a little while and we talked as if we had known each other forever. He told me about his lifelong ambition and shared some trivia with me like how they came back after a kitchen fire almost destroyed the restaurant and his renovations afterward, he also told me how he told his mother in law that he was going to marry her daughter four years before he did. I walked away feeling like I had made a new friend for life.
So how does Jerry's drive in score in all this? Remember when we started this expedition we four simple Goals
1. Good food-10
2. Clean Place-10
3. Fair Price-10
4. Good Service-10
All scores go from 1-10, 1 being the worst, 10 being the best.
Jerry's Drive in-how it all adds up
Jerry's Drive in Restaurant