Jim’s Spaghetti House changes uniforms, hires male waiters
HUNTINGTON — Regina Smith of Barboursville said she loves to have lunch at Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House on 5th Avenue when she is Christmas shopping in downtown Huntington.
Smith said as soon as she steps inside the restaurant she can smell the aroma of freshly made spaghetti.
“The spaghetti is my favorite,” she said. “Love their pies too.”
Smith said she did notice a few changes from her last visit to the iconic downtown restaurant.
“They have some male waiters and their uniforms have changed,” she said.
The two changes are the addition of two male waiters and the white dresses formerly worn by the female wait staff have made way to black slacks, white shirts and a green apron.
“To tell you the truth, since they had on white shirts and green aprons, I didn’t really notice the change at first,” Smith said. “I don’t mind the changes, the food is still amazing and the staff is still just as friendly and helpful as anytime I have come in the past.”
The restaurant’s managing owner, Jimmie Tweel Carder, said she didn’t want to make the change in uniforms, but felt it was the best option.
“Last February, I called to order uniforms,” she explained. “We generally get anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000 worth of uniforms at a time and I was told they no longer made that dress. So we got online and checked every available uniform place in this country. We looked long and hard and even got some samples, but nothing was right for various reasons.”
Tweel Carder mulled over putting in a special order for the white dresses because they were such an important part of the restaurant’s history.
“We always had dresses, and my dad prided himself on the dress, because it was unique to Jim’s,” Tweel Carder said.
Trish Woody, a 30-year employee at Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House, said she also tried to help find the restaurant’s traditional white dresses.
“For me, it was hard to give up wearing the white dress after wearing it for 30 years, but we had no choice,” Woody said.
Tweel Carder says she felt the white dresses were part of Jim’s legacy.
“It was part of my dad,” she said. “I have a photo of my mother in the 1940s wearing the dress, so it hurt my heart to have to change the uniforms, but we all made the decision to make the change and move forward. I’m okay with it and these will be the uniforms for years to come now.”
Tweel Carder said one of the reasons she now embraces the change in uniforms is because it paved the way for the restaurant to hire a more diversified staff.
“We felt like we might attract more people to want to work here without the dress,” she said. “That too was part of the decision.”
Dustin Cremeans and Reid Palmer were hired as the first male waiters in the establishment’s history.
“I have been here three months now, and everything is going great,” Palmer said.
Cremeans had been a loyal customer of the restaurant for the past 15 years before being hired.
“I sold my business in March so I could go back to school to get my teaching degree,” he said. “I had free time and worked at Jim’s during Strawberry Pie Week and really enjoyed it. With the uniform change, I talked Jimmie into taking a chance on me as a waiter and it has been a wonderful experience. It’s a great atmosphere here for both the customers and the employees.”
Tweel Carder said it has all worked out well and the feedback from customers has been mostly positive.
“These are two great, hardworking guys and we are so happy to have them,” she said. “Yes, there were a few people that appeared a little upset about it, but they keep coming back. The food and service here outweighs the old uniforms.”
The restaurant has 30 employees, Tweel Carder added.
Jim’s began in 1938 after Jim and Sally Tweel purchased The Kennedy Dairy Store located at 920 5th Ave., which is still the location of the restaurant. They began selling cheeseburgers, ice cream and milkshakes.
In 1944, a man by the name of Roberto Elmoro from Italy stopped in and told Jim he wanted to help him start a spaghetti house. Using Elmoro’s original recipe and expanding the restaurant to include the room next door, The Spaghetti House opened on July 14, 1944.
The restaurant continued to grow, and in 1948, the dairy bar and spaghetti house were combined to become Jim’s Grill and Spaghetti House.
In 1962, Jim expanded again. After some remodeling, the restaurant was given a new sign and its current name, Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House.
Tweel Carder says there are a few things that will never change at the restaurant.
“Regardless your lunch or dinner choice, you’ll be served with delicious, quality food that has stood the test of time,” she said.
Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is closed on Sunday and Monday. More information can be found on the restaurant’s website at www.jimsspaghetti.com.
Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter at @FredPaceHD.