- This article is about the hamburger chain. For other uses, see Jack's (disambiguation).
Jack's Family Restaurants Inc., founded as Jack's Hamburgers in Homewood, is a fast food restaurant chain with 150 locations in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. The corporate headquarters are at 124 West Oxmoor Road in Homewood. Todd Bartmess is CEO, having succeeded Benny LaRussa in 2015. Other officers include chief financial officer Matt Lallatin and Billy Wentz, vice-president of operations.
The first Jack's, a drive-in, was opened on November 21, 1960 by Jack Caddell on 29th Avenue South in downtown Homewood. A formal grand opening followed that Friday, November 25 with appearances by Santa Claus and Cousin Cliff.
Caddell was inspired by the early spread of the McDonald's hamburger chain in California and introduced the quick-service concept to Alabama. When the McDonald's chain arrived in town two years later, many assumed that it was patterned after Jack's. The first location, designed by architect Edward Bondurant was distinguished by orange and yellow enameled metal panels, arranged as vertical stripes under a slanted, overhanging roof. The original signs featured "Jack's" in five individual white rectangles with the word "Hamburgers" on a separate sign underneath. The kitchen fixtures, per Caddell's specifications, featured heated work tables, a 500-cup per hour automated coffee maker, milkshake machines capable of turning out 36 shakes every three minutes and modern electronic cash registers. The building was constructed by the Porcelain Engineering Company of Homewood.
Jack's original menu featured items such as fifteen cent hamburgers and fries, twenty cent shakes, and a twenty cent "Fish-On-A-Bun." Jack's rapidly expanded and by the mid-1960s, there were at least nine locations in Birmingham area, plus one store each in Jackson, Mississippi and Charleston, South Carolina.
Jack's targeted most of its advertising at children. Part of this advertising was sponsoring local children's television shows hosted by Cousin Cliff, Bozo the Clown, and Sergeant Jack. Many Birmingham residents remember the chain's famous "15-cent Jingle" composed by Henry Kimbrell.
Like other fast food chains, Jack's evolved into a sit-down restaurant in the late 1960s, remodeling some of its existing locations with faux-stone walls. Jimmy Moreland became one of the chain's first franchise owners, and took over as chief executive of the 17-store chain when Florida Capital bought it from Caddell in March 1969.
Florida Capital CEO Jimmy Moreland shepherded the growth of the chain from 17 to almost 80 locations in four states. The chain's complex signage was simplified to a large red circle with the word "Jack's" in white script. The menu was expanded with the "Big Jack" 1/4-pound hamburger in 1976, Jack's Spicy Chicken in 1978, and a breakfast menu featuring fresh-made biscuits in 1979. Despite those efforts, increased competition from national chains forced the closure of numerous locations through the 1980s.
During that period, franchisee Benny LaRussa, a Bruno's grocery store manager and company executive, began expanding his operating territory from the single location he had operated in Dora since the 1960s. In 1979, he purchased a franchise territory of 13 Jack's stores. From then until 1988 he expanded his territory to 33 stores, almost all of the locations still in business. In 1989, LaRussa purchased sole franchise rights for the Jack's concept from owners Dick Reese and Don Ghareeb. He supplies Jack's and many area Subway restaurants from his Southeastern Food Merchandisers wholesale grocery business.
Another longtime franchisee, Wayne Reaves, built the Anniston-area market back up with a cluster of stores owned by his Manna Enterprises. The current logo, with a different, larger script, was adopted in the early 2000s. In 2004 the company relocated its headquarters across Oxmoor Road to the 13,000-square-foot building vacated in 2000 by the Danka Office Imaging Company of St Petersburg, Florida, expanding it with a 4,000 square foot addition.
By 2010 there were 108 Jack's locations in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia, mostly company-owned. Jack's Family Restaurants, Inc. remains a privately-held company, with Manna Enterprises as its sole franchisee. The chain pursues ties within the stores' communities, including elected officials, school and athletic leaders and other business owners. Each location has a hostess on staff to tend to dining room patrons. The typical Jack's restaurant makes 45% of its revenue at the lunch hour and 35% from breakfast service. Its customer base is older than the average fast-food chain.
Current Birmingham area locations
- #144, 5707 Veterans Memorial Drive, Adamsville (opened 2012)
- #162, 1800 19th Street North, Bessemer
- #189, 21359 U.S. Highway 11, Caffee Junction
- #008, Sumiton Shopping Center, Dora
- #146, 201 Walker Chapel Road, Fultondale
- #210, 2259 Mount Olive Road, Gardendale
- #238, 5711 Chalkville Road, Grayson Valley (opened 2012)
- #001, 2831 19th Street South, Homewood
- #166, 3429 Lorna Road, Hoover
- #168, 1724 Crestwood Boulevard, Irondale
- #129, 3204 U.S. Highway 78, Jasper
- #004, 80 Alabama State Highway 195, Jasper
- #191, 30085 Highway 79, Locust Fork
- #174, 4468 Center Point Road, Pinson
- #145, 27 Park Road #200, Pleasant Grove
- #165, 2890 Pinson Valley Parkway, Tarrant
- #167, 1460 Gadsden Highway, Trussville
- #134, 219 Louisa Street, Warrior
- #257, 425 Fieldstown Road, Gardendale
Former Birmingham area locations
This list is incomplete.
- #144, 5701 Veterans Memorial Drive, Adamsville (1989-2012)
- 29th Avenue South, Homewood (opened November 1960)
- Roebuck Plaza (opened April 1961)
- 304 3rd Avenue West, Elyton Village (opened September 1961)
- Alabaster (1960s)
- Eastwood Mall, Birmingham (1960s)
- Five Points West, Birmingham (1960s)
- Bessemer (1960s)
- 1716 6th Avenue South, Medical Center (1970s)
- 5192 Old Springville Road, Chalkville (closed mid-1980s)
- 2301 Center Point Parkway, Center Point (1960s)
- 1594 Montgomery Highway, Hoover (closed mid-1980s)
- 3064 Warrior River Road, Hueytown (closed mid-1980s)
- 163 Main Street, Trussville
- 707 Montgomery Highway, Vestavia Hills (1960s)
- "Santa and Uncle Cliff [sic] to help open Jack's Hamburger Drive-in" (November 23, 1960) Shades Valley Sun - via Birmingham Rewound
- Burger, Frederick (March 2001) "Southern Smiles." QSR Magazine
- Hayes, Jack (January 28, 2002) "Jack's: Service with a smile brightens fast-food chain's future as it re-emerges as a Southeastern force." Nation's Restaurant News
- Mahoney, Ryan (January 19, 2004) "Jack's buys Danka building for headquarters." Birmingham Business Journal
- Lewis, Herbert J. (March 31, 2010) "Jack's Family Restaurants". Encyclopedia of Alabama
- Williams, Roy L. (August 15, 2010) "On the record: Benny LaRussa of Birmingham's Jack's Family Restaurants." The Birmingham News
- Hollis, Tim (November 2010) "Back to Jack's". Birmingham magazine. p. 40
- Chambers, Jesse (November 16, 2012) "New Jack's cuts the cake for seniors, commuters." The Birmingham News
- Van der Bijl, Hanno (April 18, 2018) "Jack's CEO weighs in on fast food chain's expansion plans." Birmingham Business Journal