Jack's

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This article is about the hamburger chain. For other uses, see Jack's (disambiguation).
Jack's logo 2018.PNG

Jack's Family Restaurants Inc., founded as Jack's Hamburgers in Homewood, is a fast food restaurant chain with 163 locations in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. The corporate headquarters are at 124 West Oxmoor Road in Homewood.

The Onex Group of Toronto, Ontario acquired the chain in 2015 for an equity investment of $234 million. The company hired Todd Bartmess as CEO, succeeding Benny LaRussa. Other officers include chief financial officer Matt Lallatin and Billy Wentz, vice-president of operations.

Bartmess oversaw a strategic expansion and overhaul of the brand. Onex sold the chain in 2019 for a net profit of $835 million.

Founding

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.

An early advertising card used on the Cousin Cliff television program

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.

Growth

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.

Jack's logo in use in 2006

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.

In 2018 Jack's began rolling out a new prototype store design, which it debuted in Southside, Etowah County. Store No. 001 in Homewood was demolished and rebuilt using that design in the Summer of 2019.

Locations

Current Birmingham area locations

Former Birmingham area locations

This list is incomplete.

References

  • "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
  • Van der Bijl, Hanno (April 18, 2019) "Jack's to rebuild Homewood location according to new design concept." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Thornton, William (July 25, 2019) "Canadian owner of Jack’s Restaurants to sell chain." The Birmingham News

External links