Since last Thursday, the glass-front of Jim’s Hamburgers and Hotdogs has been dotted with paper flyers announcing the closure of the Graham establishment, thanking patrons who visited over its 60-year run, and assuring — emphatically — that the shut-down isn’t an April Fools’ joke.
The reality, co-owner David Covington said, is that a long-term inability to find staff amid the pandemic led he and brother Jim Covington, Jr. to close the restaurant permanently.
“It was a sad day,” David told The Alamance News this week of the decision to close. “We just couldn’t do it.”
Still, he explained that a bright spot for patrons is the “several inquiries” that the brothers have received from restaurateurs interested in buying the eatery, a number of whom have expressed a desire to keep the place as it is.
Apart from Jim’s hotdogs and hamburgers, visitors also turned out for the ice cream offerings, which relate back to the original owner’s earlier career as a milkman with Melville Dairy. Sixty years ago, the elder Jim, now deceased for four years, developed an interest in the restaurant, then called Bertha’s. A friend of the milkman placed his faith in the eatery’s future success, taking out a mortgage on his home to help Jim purchase the business.
From there, the restaurant became Jim’s Tastee-Freez, later leaving the franchise behind in the late 1980’s to become independently owned by the Covington family.
Jim’s later came under the ownership of the two brothers, who have expressed their gratitude for the eatery’s decades-long run and the friendships that the Covingtons formed with diners along the way.
“We appreciate the customers we’ve come to know over the years and the friends we’ve made,” David said.