In June 18 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
Last Thursday, Manners Café & Soda Shop opened on the square in Jamestown giving some a glimpse into the past and others a stroll down memory lane.
"We just opened the door and thought that people would trickle in," said Nona Wooten, co-owner and manager. "Lunch was a big surprise but it was awesome."
She said the 40 seat 1950's style diner was filled to capacity several times over with folks waiting for tables during the unexpected lunch rush. At the end of the first day of business, they had served about 176 food orders.
The local landmark, built in 1921, is one of the oldest buildings in Jamestown. Most locals remember the diner as Tanner's opened by Ernest Tanner and his brother John Tanner in 1946.
Last November, Jamestown native Rickie Mann noticed a for sale sign and decided to breathe new life into the old soda shop and revive it preserving the 1950's theme.
Wooten said the Manners name is a combination of the old Tanner's and the Mann last name.
The name coordinated with the friendly 1950's atmosphere and good customer service led to their slogan "…because nice matters."
"I didn't grow up saying I want to run a restaurant," said co-owner and manager Rickie Mann. "This is more about saving our heritage than anything else."
In an effort to bring back the good ole days, much of the interior is maintained with original fixtures from the soda shop including an old milk shake mixer they still have in use.
Some 1950's features were kept or purchased purely for nostalgia sake invoking memories of a bygone era.
"We hear lots of stories about first dates here," said Mann. "Guys talk about sitting at the front booths watching the girls go by."
Manners begins serving breakfast bright and early at 6 a.m., moves right into the lunch rush about 11 a.m. and closes for the day at 4 p.m.
"We're getting a feel for how folks come in," said Wooten. "Later we'll probably extend the hours on Friday and Saturday until seven or eight o'clock in the evening."
Along with the interior design preservation, some of the old menu is also still available. Manners offers old favorites such as a hotdog sandwich, fried bologna sandwiches and sausage sandwiches. Chili dogs at the diner come with chili made from Ernest Tanner's recipe.
Mann and Wooten visited the 91 year old Tanner, at a nursing home in Clarksville, TN, to share the news that they planned to open the diner again and ask him about the past - including his secret hamburger recipe.
"He said, 'I've never told anybody' and then changed the subject," said Wooten. "He did mention a few ingredients though."
Starting with the ingredients Tanner mentioned, the pair created their own signature burgers called Little Fellers. The spicy mini burgers have been a big hit in the diner Wooten said.
"We know we could never duplicate what Ernest Tanner did," said co-owner and manager, Rickie Mann. "He had his own touch and it won't be the same without him. We realize how special a person he is and what he did here."
The restaurant offers tried and true diner fare of big, cooked to order breakfasts and burgers or sandwiches. They have even added a veggie burger to the menu to satisfy new trends.
Old fashioned hand dipped milkshakes, malts, ice cream cones and sundaes are served up at the soda fountain along with old favorites, orangeade and lemonade.
Plans to celebrate the new downtown diner are underway.
"In about a month or so, we'll have a grand opening including Classic Times Band that specializes in 1950's music," Wooten said.