The business of 24/7: Jim's Family Restaurant
Nancy J. Parisi
There are 8,760 hours in a year.
Businesses that are open all of those 8,760 hours are often regarded as necessary, garishly-lit outposts of services-on-demand. But our lives would be poorer if convenience stores, laudromats, grocery store chains Wegmans and Tops Friendly Markets, and several gas stations throughout Western New York were not always available for our disasters, needs, and whims. Here’s a survey of four iconic WNY businesses that remain always open and ever ready.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we'll reveal a handful of Buffalo's 24/7 businesses, today we will visit Jim's.
Jim’s Family Restaurant is a well-worn diner that never closes, doubling as a trucker’s haven. Just off the I-90, and near the Walden Galleria, the low-slung building is separated from its onsite gift shop by some gas pumps.
The menu, as to be expected, features all meals available at any time of day, though the phrase “No Substitutions” is repeated throughout. Jim’s serves classic club sandwiches with fries and pickle, a selection of subs, grill items, a hearty selection of meaty sandwiches, and “Jim’s Famous Haddock Fish Fry,” among other offerings.
Catering to truckers (the business logo depicts an eighteen-wheeler), Jim’s has a glassed-in diner counter that allows smoking, and provides shower and laundry facilities. Rig accoutrements, such as seat cushions, and on-dash fans, are available in the gift shop. There is also a video arcade. Large maps of New York and the U.S. line one wall. Besides truckers, families, and a large senior clientele, Jim’s serves a bar crowd that arrives between 2 and 4 a.m. and represents five percent of the restaurant’s business.
Manager Brian Degan has been in his position for six years and proudly wears a Jim’s embroidered polo shirt. Always on call, Degan commutes to the restaurant from his home approximately thirty miles away in the Northtowns. When asked what types of calls he gets, he says, “I got a call last night that the hot water tank was leaking at 9:30. It’s hard to get a full night’s sleep without a call—it could be anything, from the roof leaking to a staffing problem.” A good night’s sleep is a rare commodity in the 24/7 world.
2125 Walden Ave., Cheektowaga, 716-683-9908