Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2017

For the love of pizza

Jerry’s Restaurant celebrates 50 years of business this weekend
Jun 28, 2017
Photo by: Karyn Spory A Mt. Pleasant staple, Jerry’s Restaurant, will celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend. Lea and Jerry Bradley, above, first met over a pizza pie, it’s only fitting their restaurant is known for it’s pizza.

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News

 

To say Jerry and Lea Bradley’s life revolves around pizza isn’t too far off.

The owners of Jerry’s Restaurant, who will celebrate 50 years in the restaurant business this weekend, first met over a slice of pie.

In the early 1960s, Lea worked as a waitress in George’s in Fairfield. Jerry rented the upstairs apartment.

“She served me my first pizza,” Jerry said sitting next to his wife at a table in the back of their dimly lit restaurant. Lea smiled as she delicately refolded a blue cloth napkin.

Fifty years later, it’s still amore. And pizza.

Jerry came to Mt. Pleasant in 1963, as he became the manager of the local George’s. Lea followed in 1965 when the couple were married.

In 1967, George’s owner George Terzopolulous wanted to go back to Greece and offered to sell the business.

“I bought him out in 1967,” said Jerry. “He said for so much money a month I could use his name, but I just thought ‘no, I’ll call it Jerry’s.’”

And so a local staple was born. Jerry’s Restaurant was located in downtown Mt. Pleasant for 11 years before moving to its current location.

In 50 years, the longest the restaurant has been closed was six-weeks and that was after a fire.

“A year and a half after we moved out here, somebody set the restaurant on fire. We were closed for six weeks to recoup,” said Lea.

But out of 50 years, she says that’s been the biggest roadblock.

The couple has seen a lot of changes over the years. When they first came to Mt. Pleasant to manage George’s, they were the only pizza joint. However, by the time Jerry’s was born Pizza Hut had entered the restaurant landscape.

“We’ve seen a lot of pizza places come and go over the years,” said Lea, pointing out at one point or another there was a Dominos and Happy Joe’s.

Over the years, the restaurant has expanded their menu past their trademark meal.

“We have chicken and steak dinners and sandwiches,” said Lea.

The biggest change in 50 years, Lea said, is customers looking for healthier items on the menu. “A lot of people enjoy our salad bar. We have a good variety on the salad bar,” she said.

Another switch she’s noticed has been patrons ordering less pork tenderloins and more turkey tenderloins.

“I think it’s because people think marinated and grilled is better than something that is breaded and deep fat fried,” she says with a laugh.

Even after 50 years, pizza is still their most popular item.

“We get a lot of traffic off the freeway. We get people from all over, they’ll come in and take a pizza back with them,” said Jerry. “We’ve seen them go to South Carolina, Montana and Washington D.C.”

The Bradleys even used to freeze and ship their pizzas across the country, but due to rising shipping costs the practice was stopped.

There is another menu item that is edging in on their pizza’s popularity, and that’s their pies.

“We’ve been fortunate to have good pie bakers,” said Lea.

Jerry’s has had homemade pie on the menu for nearly 30 years, and in that time they’ve had three pie bakers – Vernon Roth, Barbara Eichelberger and Judy Fuller.

In fact, Jerry’s pie even has the presidential stamp of approval.

“We actually had President Obama here,” said Lea. “He was here about a year into his presidency. He had the rhubarb pie and coffee.”

Jerry’s popularity has spread far and wide, thanks to its proximity to the interstate and visitors to Old Threshers.

“We had four guys in here from New Zealand,” said Lea. “They were here for that car auction. We get people from all over.”

The couple has even had visitors from Australia; namely Mt. Pleasant High School’s foreign exchange student, Tom O’Connor’s, parents.

“Most people will say if this is the first time they’ve stopped here that they’ll make it a point to stop here again,” said Lea.

For Jerry, that’s been one of the most gratifying things from owning a restaurant, “meeting a lot of friendly folks.”

The Bradleys hope to see more friendly faces as they celebrate their 50th anniversary this coming weekend (July 1-2). The restaurant will be open for their normal business hours, but from 2 to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. They will have an open house and specially priced refreshments in honor of their half century of ownership. And on Saturday, they will have a dunk tank. Ken Brown, director of the Fellowship Cup, will take a seat in the dunk tank as all proceeds will go to the Fellowship Cup.

 

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