Home cooking “just like momma used to make it!” That’s what founder of J&S Cafeteria Grady T. Allred, Jr. wanted for his customers, and it is still our motto today!
It all began in the late 1950s when Grady, Jr. joined his father in the restaurant business. He trained as a chef with the U.S. Army’s 25th division during World War II, and subsequently Grady, Jr. came up with the cafeteria-style concept all the while pursuing a business degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at school, Grady, Jr. met Helen Bryson and subsequently married June 5, 1948. Helen was a good cook too and she would prepare big pots of chowder or beans for students.
Food was his passion and Grady, Jr. earned funds for college working in the university’s dining hall; it was there, while scrubbing dishes, the J&S founder was inspired by the camaraderie of the residents dining together. He returned home to join the family business and convinced his father to convert their small restaurant into a cafeteria-style dining experience. For Grady, Jr., the restaurant business was in no way simply about feeding hungry people. No, he wanted to serve up a slice of family!
Grady, Jr.’s idea was a huge success, leading to the growth of cafeteria-style restaurants and earning Mr. Allred dozens of industry accolades. He served as past president of the former National Restaurant Association while continuing to direct his passion into the creation of a legacy for his wife, Helen, and five children. J&S -named for Jimmy, Janet, Ann, Susan and Scott- became the namesake for his newest vision to provide great food and great service at exceptional prices.
The first J&S Cafeteria opened in an untapped market at the River Ridge Market Place in Asheville, NC on September 4, 1984 and garnered a tremendous response. The budding community welcomed a unique low-fat “fresh” alternative to fast-food, and J&S became known for “vegetables for value.” The average cost was $3 per meal, and J&S immediately had a following of “regulars.” People of all ages flocked to the restaurant for everyday dinners, holidays and special occasions.
As the demand grew, Grady, Jr. recruited his daughter Ann’s husband, son-in-law Fagg Nowlan, to work alongside the patriarch in the family business. Nowlan obtained a degree in Psychology at Gardner Webb College where he also served as Student Body President, and then subsequently built a successful career in business and economic development. Not to mention, Nowlan was deeply involved in the local community, receiving a multitude of honors and recognition from the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, The Music Academy of North Carolina, Jaycees, YMCA, Crime Stoppers and a variety of other notable organizations.
Nowlan finally agreed to leave his post as executive vice president of the Florence Chamber of Commerce in order to come on board. The two worked side-by-side from sunup to sundown in order to carefully expand J&S. Ann would bring her young children Ashley, Amanda, Josh and Alex to the restaurant so they could have dinner with dad, grandfather and the customers- their extended family.
Grady, Jr. passed away in 2001, leaving behind his loving wife and three generations of J&S family. The timeless business sentiments of responsibility, quality, honesty and customer loyalty remain at the core of the J&S business model.
That is why J&S Cafeteria employs some of the most dedicated cooks in the industry who work carefully to ensure they receive new ingredients, menus and fresh local produce from farms in North Carolina to create the home-style dishes that diners love. J&S takes pride in small batch recipes from a cookbook used for more than 30 years and a contemporary menu that includes lighter fare.
From students to seniors, the J&S family is constantly growing. Whether guests dine in or partake of the newest catering service, J&S continues to treat customers as if they are invited guests to the family dinner table.
Helpings are generous, because it was Grady, Jr.’s belief that: “Someone leaving here hungry is a sin.” From down-home Southern cuisine to heart healthy options, there’s something for everyone at the J&S Cafeteria dinner table.
We love our valued customers, welcome to the J&S family!
Our mission is pleasing people with great food, great service and 100% customer satisfaction every time. Our goal is to serve the freshest and best food in the USA at a value price.
We'll Do This By
Providing 100% customer satisfaction— we guarantee excellent service
Always giving our customers flavorful and high-quality food
We guarantee our customers will be delighted with every visit with great service
Providing superior training and benefits for our employees
Providing employees with opportunities to develop and advance themselves
Sharing our philosophy of flavorful and fresh food, great service, pride in our products, and high self-esteem
Striving for the best within ourselves daily