Jerry's Drive In
|Jerry's Drive In|
|Cuisine||Diner, Southern fare|
|Location||2815 East Cervantes Street|
|Owner||Jimmy and Pam Halstead|
|Slogan||"Home of the Original Bacon Cheeseburger"|
|Hours of Operation||M-F, 7AM-10PM|
|Phone number||(850) 433-9910|
Jerry's Drive In is an East Pensacola Heights eatery located at 2815 East Cervantes Street, at the southwest corner of Cervantes and Perry Avenue. It was founded by Jerry Glass in 1939 as Jerry's Barbecue and at one point had a carhop-style service in the back, thus the "drive in" name.
Indiana transplant Raymond "Grandpa" Wessel purchased the restaurant circa 1952 or '53 and operated it with his son Bill. "When we first come here, we found out who everybody was," Ray said in a 1992 News Journal interview. "Wasn't nobody come in here who we didn't know what their name was."
The father-and-son team wore matching white shirts with red "Southern colonel" ties, and they lived in the apartment above the restaurant. Wessel sold the restaurant to Robert, Jimmy and Pam Halstead in June 1997, but maintained a residence in the upstairs apartment until his death in 2003. Wessel's granddaughter, Sharon Johnson, remained the manager.
The menu at Jerry's Drive In includes classic diner fare like burgers (including their popular bacon cheeseburger), fries, onion rings and milkshakes. Other dishes include barbecue pork, chicken, fried mullet and a variety of seafood entrees, gizzards and livers, plus Southern sides like fried okra and hushpuppies. Soups include the popular bean soup, fish chowder, chili, vegetable beef and oyster stew. The restaurant seats around 75 people with a combination of booths, tables and barstools.
The walls are covered with signs and bumper stickers, many with humorous or sarcastic slogans, along with sports posters and pennants of favorite area teams. According to Jimmy Halstead, "Everything we have here has been given to us. Anyone can bring in any décor, and we will hang it up."
The Jerry's building has endured a number of tribulations. On May 15, 1999, a fire originating from the deep fryer gutted the restaurant, causing $200,000 in damage. It reopened two months later. "We were able to save the memorabilia on the walls and everything. Too bad we couldn't save any of the famous grease," joked owner Jimmy Halstead.
On another instance (date needed), a Cervantes Street motorist plowed into the side of the building.
- "Jerry's still serves simple, classic meals." Pensacola News Journal, December 2, 2005.
- "'Grandpa' Wessel, longtime owner of Jerry's Drive In, dies." Pensacola News Journal, August 25, 2003.
- "Eat, Drink, and Be 'Jerry.'" The Corsair, January 24, 2007.
- "Jerry's restaurant has that old look in reworked building." Pensacola News Journal, July 30, 1999.