Joe's Ranch House

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Joe's Ranch House was a private supper club at 1105 Mayland Lane, just off Highway 31 in Vestavia Hills. It was opened by Joe Zarzaur on a site opposite the Shades Mountain Drive-In Theatre in September 1948, two years before the city was incorporated. The club has been rebuilt or expanded three times since, most recently on its current 2.67 acre site behind U-Haul.

When it first opened the restaurant offered curb service for drive-in customers as well as a 1,500-square-foot dance floor, open six nights a week. In its heyday from the 1950s to the late 1970s, Joe's Ranch House was a favorite stop for local executives, officials and other notables such as Bear Bryant. Former Vestavia mayor Scotty McCallum was a member from 1952 until the restaurant closed.

In the latest set-up, the back dining room hosted popular big bands and served as a nightclub while families dined in the front room. Guests were encouraged to bring their own liquor to drink with meals. The kitchen was famed for its stellar steaks, fresh seafood and fried onion rings. The club's regulars were well-known to the wait staff and to Juliette Zarzaur, Joe's wife and hostess.

In 1981 Zarzaur sold the business to Gus Gulas. Zarzaur bought it back in 2002 and rebuilt the membership. Juliette died in 2005 and Zarzaur decided to close the business on September 30, 2006. The property was put up for sale.

Some scenes from Bart Freundlich's 2001 feature film World Traveler were shot at Joe's Ranch House. The "No. 1" membership card was held by Meryl Vaiden.


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