JAMESTOWN – The owners of the soon-to-be-opened Jimmy’s Family Restaurant came forward Monday afternoon to offer more details about their plan to take over the former Friendly’s location at 10 S. Main St. in Jamestown.
Owner Vince DeJoy, who also serves as the current Development Director for the city of Jamestown, said he and his family are putting up the capital needed to open the Restaurant and will have Marcy Parenti serve as Restaurant Manager, dealing with the day-to-day operations.
DeJoy said the restaurant will be run though the JTOWN DJF Limited Liability Corporation, with the DJF an abbreviation for “DeJoy Family.” DeJoy added that the owner of the property, Amfil, had received some feelers from other developers but nothing had come forward.
“This is one of the most iconic places in Jamestown. It’s been a family restaurant. Friendly’s did a great job here serving families, seniors, a Saturday morning radio show. So we had to act and act fast,” DeJoy said. “Amfil had a number of feelers that they put out to various large franchise restaurant chains. There was some inquiries but there really wasn’t much followup – from what I understand – afte initial inquiries.”
DeJoy based on a lack of initial interest following the closing, he talked it over with his family and developed a business plan for the restaurant shortly before Memorial Day weekend. He presented the plan to Amfil and an agreement was worked out for TJOWN DJF to lease and take over the location.
It was less than two months between the announced closing and DeJoy coming forward to make an offer on using the property. But despite that short turnaround, he said there was no conflict of interest because no one else had approached his office about possibly using the property.
“[The Department of Development] phone didn’t ring once,” DeJoy said. “We made efforts but, you know what, we’re not commercial brokers in the department of development. As you know I wear a number of hats – whether I’m doing demolition, code enforcement, seeking grant money. We’re not commercial brokers. We don’t have that type of capacity. We’ll make inquiries, we’ll do some research and we do the best we can, but that’s where it is.”
“I could not stand to see this place closed for as long as it was. It was probably the most often asked question in the last three months. It was ‘When are going to find somebody for Friendly’s?'” DeJoy explained.
Other than a $55,000 loan from the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency approved last week, DeJoy said all other investments for the restaurant will come from his and his family’s personal finances.
Parenti said the restaurant will maintain similar hours to what Friendly’s had operated under (7am to 10pm), and will also have a similar, family-style menu. She added that much of the staff from Friendly’s will be able to return. In all the restaurant will employ about 35 people.
Friendly’s closed the Jamestown location without warning in early April 2019 as part nearly two dozen closures in several states, including New York.
If all goes according to plan, the restaurant should be opened by early August, in time for the 2019 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.