Waitresses Celebrate 50 years at Jess & Jim’s
By Kathy Feist
In 1968, the Beatles had a number one hit with Hey Jude! The movie 2001: A Space Odyssey had hit the big screen. And the minimum wage was $1.60 an hour.
It was also the year Betty Reed and Jenny Russell began waitressing at Jess and Jim’s Steakhouse in Martin City.
On Monday, Sept. 24, the owners of Jess and Jim’s, Mike and Debbie VanNoy, threw a celebration for the two, inviting staff and family. Photos of the women over the years greeted visitors as they entered the festive outdoor patio off the restaurant. A food buffet and a two-tiered cake fed guests. A Fox 4 reporter filmed the event.
Pictures of Reed (top left) and Russell (top right) at Jess & Jim’s over the years were posted at the party.
“Jess and Jim’s is a good place to work,” says Russell. “The crews are wonderful.”
Russell started working at age 27 as a married mother of four. “I’ve worked for three generations: the original Jess and Jim, RC (VanNoy) and now Mike (VanNoy),” she says. “I remember when Mike used to be the busboy!”
Over the years, Russell got a divorce and raised her teenage children as a single parent. Despite tough times, it never occurred to her to look elsewhere for work. “The money is good,” she says. “Why start all over? I had a lot of call customers. And I don’t think I would like working at a place where they have a corporate franchise.”
Russell now works three days a week, which includes the busiest night–Friday. The grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of 11 says, “It all worked out pretty good.”
Reed, who would only say she’s older than Russell, shares a similar story. She started off married with three young children and eventually got a divorce. She later remarried. Through it all, she worked at Jess and Jim’s.
Reed recalls the two have waited on Chiefs players and various sports celebrities, actors, and even the prime minister of Japan.
Reed now works two days a week at the restaurant. Her family has grown to include nine grandkids and seven great grandkids. However, she also considers the VanNoys as family.
“They are decent people to work for. I love them all,” she says. “I would hate to quit. It would be like losing a family.”