The Main-Street Attraction: Jenks Restaurant

By: Liam Ford

An American diner is a classic: a must-visit to foreigners and a good morning – or a calm afternoon – to those who live nearby.  They have their own signature air: a relaxing atmosphere, filled by laughter and the clinking of silverware.  The smell of coffee fills the room, the coffee pots sputtering, and the warmth encircles you to combat the chilly bite of the morning cold.

The Jenks Restaurant offers no less.

After the changes caused by Covid became too much to handle in late 2019 to early 2020, Jenks Restaurant was seemingly closed for good. Their patio decor was pulled inside. Their sign was out for months, and it seemed improbable that it would illuminate Jenks Main Street again, until now-owner, Julie Jackson, heard it was for sale.

“Jenks Restaurant has always been iconic to the town of Jenks,” says Jackson. “[My husband] and I heard it was for sale, and we jumped on the opportunity to preserve it.”

Jackson has now been a proud joint owner of the diner for around a full year. Though her reign is young, and modifications not yet complete, there are still adjustments she has made. As I initially walked in the doors, the first change was evident: the tick and tock of the amazing clocks that once bedecked the walls was absent, and the inside was only somewhat familiar.

“We completely remodelled the inside,” Jackson shared. “The amazing clocks have been replaced with historical photos of Jenks… [but] it was important for us to keep the friendly local and family environment the same.”

Besides these changes, it retains it’s tradition. Though the extraordinary collection of clocks no longer adorned the walls and their familiar clicking was no more, covering the walls are old, important photos: the Richard L. Jones Airport, the railroads that played the most vital role in building Jenks, and some rather funny signs.

Picture of the directions to Jenks sign, taken early-mid 1900s

“Eventually,” Jackson adds, “we would like to extend our hours…  [And] we still serve diner food, but we’ve added a modern twist to our menu.”

The menu had been pretty much the same for 100 years, the previous owners – who had sold Jackson the business – being very proud of their tradition. Still, they realized that it was time to modernize what they offer.  As I gazed at their age-old menu, I realized that it had indeed faced fine-tune adjustments: modern breakfast foods, including a variety of new omelets, a multitude of lunch foods added on, and a simple easy design.

Shortly after I ordered, crispy, thin waffles came to accompany thick, buttery pancakes from the most traditional part of their menu.  The sounds of bacon sizzling came from the kitchen to my left while the sun rose outside. If you don’t prefer sweet, bready foods, they also offered savory oatmeal, parfaits loaded with fruit and granola, and the new modern, lunch-inclined foods.  Burgers, sandwiches, and the most authentic side to accompany your brunch: buttermilk-fluffed biscuits with a rich, creamy gravy.

I was offered specials: muffin of the day, coffees, and great deals on particular foods.  My breakfast was also accompanied by many friendly staff, with plenty of “good mornings,” very fast and accurate service, and other friendly diners sharing smiles.  For less than $15 a head, it was very affordable along with its authenticity and comfortable environment.  As I paid and left, I thought it was the perfect place to start your day.

Unique menu item at Jenks Restaurant: Pollo Omelette (cheese, chicken, avocado, and mixed vegetables wrapped in fluffed eggs) with fruit

Jenks Restaurant is open from 7am through 2:30pm.  These five and a half more-than-lively hours are just a beginning.

*Until then, make sure to visit Jenks Restaurant at 215 E Main St, Jenks, OK 74037.

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