— In a time when a lot of businesses are struggling, Little Joe’s in Grand Blanc is honored to be celebrating their 75th Anniversary and have kicked off a week-long celebration to thank the customers that have kept them running for all these years.
Little Joe’s was started back during the Great Depression by “Little Joe” Dewey when he was unable to find work. Originally, the restaurant was located in the lobby of the Grand Hotel operating with only a few tables for customers and a limited selection of menu items. With business thriving, Dewey moved the restaurant to its current location, 11518 S. Saginaw St., in 1936 to allow for more space for their customers and a larger area to produce a wide variety of menu items.
By 1993, the Dewey family was ready to sell and the Abbott family was eager to take over the business and continue on with the tradition the Dewey family established.
“Our father was in the food industry and this was just something our family ha been wanting to get into for a while,” Brooke Clothier said.
Although only owning the business for last 17 years of its 75 in business, Joe Abbott said the support from the community has been above and beyond what he had expected.
“Coming into a restaurant that has already been established and has a name for itself, its been wonderful to have the huge support from families, local schools and sporting events,” said Abbott. “Not often do you hear of a restaurant being open for 75 years in Genesee County and that is unfortunate, but at the same time it is nice that we keep going and still have a line at the door.”
As a thank you to their customers, Monday kicked off the Little Joe’s 75th Anniversary celebration week, which runs through Saturday and is centered around a “75” theme. They are offering 75 cents Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and various giveaways all week long, and other nights they offered 75 cent tacos, kids eat for 75 cents and $7.50 large pizzas. For Friday and Saturday, Little Joe’s will be offering customers lobster macaroni and cheese, which is not on their menu normally, as well as a few other drink specials. Also on Saturday, they will be holding a drawing for an ipod.
“We are hoping this encourages people to come in and share memories and help us celebrate,” Abbott said.
Clothier said their restaurant is a meeting place of sorts where anyone can feel comfortable and where everyone knows each other.
“People constantly come in with a story so we are hoping to get those and post some of them on our Facebook page because we hear everything from engagement stories happening here to sports stories to ‘we use to come in here when we were little,’” Clothier said. “Our audience is just so general from kids to seniors, it is just a great mix.”
Also a part of their celebration is bringing back the sing-a-longs that use to take place at Little Joe’s with a modern day twist. Clothier said a guitarist will be in tonight to engage customers to really get involved.
“Change is always good,” Abbott said. “At the same time you kind of have to keep with the same.”
As they look to bring back some of the old memories and form new ones with a modern twist, both Clothier and Abbott said they are not looking to change the business.
“People expect you to update, but I have a lot of regular customers where we say we will close for renovations and they are like ‘what, what are you doing, you can’t change anything,’ and it is like ‘no, just painting and getting new carpet,’” Abbott said.
One thing Clothier and Abbott said they would like to bring to the business though is outdoor seating. Abbott said they had outdoor seating during the Back to the Bricks celebration and people really enjoyed that. For now though, they are just going to live in the moment and focus on their accomplishment of keeping the business running.
“None of us had done anything beside side jobs that we had, none of us had restaurant experience,” Clothier said. “So we are pretty proud of ourselves to keep the tradition going on. There were lots of bumps at first and lots of mistakes, but we are just proud to hold up our end of the bargain of 75 years.”
For more information on Little Joe’s visit www.littlejoesrestaurant.com
or call (810) 694-8391.