HAMLET — Jerry’s Diner probably won’t be open in time for Easter brunch on Main Street, but a May 1 grand opening looks doable, the restaurant’s owner says.
Preston Bartley, 30, has been working on the old Jones on Main himself since buying it last month, drafting his aunt — Gwen Chavis Suite of Hamlet, who told him the restaurant was available — and anyone else he can grab for refurbishing work.
“When I open … I want it to be smooth sailing,” Bartley said one afternoon this week, as he painted part of the restaurant’s drinks bar.
The diner’s new name is up on the outside windows and on a sign over the door. Cooking and serving staff are standing by. And most of the interior has been repainted: walls gray, benches black and doors red.
Bartley and his crew also have retiled the area under the booths lining each wall, as well as the kitchen and men’s bathroom.
He’s waiting for a buffet table — “they’re taking their dear old time” — while he fills out paperwork for the health department. What plans he makes from now on may depend on what that department permits.
On Wednesday, the scent of spray paint on the bar and booths mixed with the odor of polyurethane on a portion of the hardwood floor. The existing buffet — for cold items — had been moved but may have to be repositioned.
Bartley, who also manages a handful of fast-food restaurants, co-owns Jerry’s Diner in Lumberton. He named both restaurants after his father.
He plans to retain much of the country-cooking menu of the former Jones on Main, augmenting it with personal favorites such as homemade vinegar-based pork barbecue.
Yvette Jones closed her Jones on Main early this year, citing health problems. She had served country cooking at the cafe for three years, after closing the Country Kitchen in Rockingham.
Celebrated for “soul food,” Jones on Main once earned a mention by then-Gov. Pat McCrory, during an appearance on “Meet the Press.”
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]