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CAN'T GET SPRING FAST ENOUGH: Shorts, skirts and flipflops: Students outside the TSC are eagerly awaiting the warmth that has been favoring Salt Lake City for weeks. / Photo by Josh Russell
Today's word on

Thursday, March 10, 2005

From the High School Free Speech Front:

"If they feel an article isn't appropriate, they will pull it -- or ask the student to make changes to it. They said that isn't censorship. They said they're just approving or not approving what goes in. What's your definition of censorship?"

--Hawley Kunz, co-editor of the Warrior News, Weber High School, Pleasant View, Utah. The principal ordered prior review of the monthly newspaper after an editorial critical of the condition of the school's running track. (3/8/05)

The times, they are a-changin' in Richmond

By Joey Hislop

February 24, 2005 | RICHMOND -- When Jed's Burger Bar, now known as Big-J's, opened its doors for business in 1959, what we call a 'combo meal' today (a burger, fries, & a soda) would've cost you 45 cents back then.

My, how times have changed.

It is now impossible to find a decent hamburger anywhere in the civilized world for anything close to 25 cents. A homemade root beer will never be 10 cents again, and neither will homemade french fries.

However, for the remainder of this week, Big-J's in Richmond will be reminiscing old memories and reducing current prices. As I reported on Feb. 11, Big-J's is moving next door and the much storied hamburger stand that has stood through all or part of 10 presidential administrations and one major earthquake will be demolished thereafter.

To learn more about the history behind Big-J's I sat down with Helen Robinson, former manager of then Jed's Burger Bar, and her daughter Jane as they recounted their memories of years spent running the family business.

Jed's Burger Bar was built in 1958 and opened for business in '59. It was the brainchild of Helen's father, Albert Moser, who also provided the funding to get it started.

The original name comes from its original owner, Helen's late husband Jed. However, as I found out, the sign out front may have borne his name but the work inside was all Helen.

"Dad was kinda' the P.R. guy," Jane said. According to a written history of the burger bar, Jed would stop cars on the highway and "send them in for Helen to feed."

Jed's picture hung in the restaurant until they sold the business in 1993. For this week's festivities Big-J's will hang his picture again one last time in his honor.

Along with the many fond memories people have of Jed's Burger Bar are the memories of Jed himself.

After his death in May of 2003 Helen received a letter from a family who had stopped in years earlier for a bite to eat on their way to the MTC in Provo. As he often did, Jed went out to greet them. When he learned of their destination he gave them $20. Back then the money went a long way and, as it turned out, this family happened to be struggling financially.

Jane said "Jed would give the shirt off his back and Helen would be there to make sure he got it back."

Helen managed the business from 1959 until 1993. Jane worked as a "car-hop" growing up. For years Helen put in 12-hour days, doing just about everything there was to be done; cooking, cleaning and balancing the money at the end of the day.

Business was usually good, especially during Black and White Days. Helen recalled a particularly busy day in May, sometime in the early 70s, when the burger bar brought in a couple thousand dollars. "We thought we were really rich," Helen said.

For more then 20 years Helen ran the burger bar along with her daughter-in-law, Lana, who leased it from her and later added a car wash which still stands adjacent to the restaurant. Helen retired from the burger bar in 1993 at the age of 68.

Perhaps nothing about the restaurant has changed as much as the menu. The fries were originally made by hand with real potatoes. Root beer syrup was mixed with sugar, water, and CO2 to make the only beverage on the original menu.

After the addition of a dining area, Helen acquired a broaster with which she made her "broasted chicken." The menu also expanded to include such items as fried chicken, fish & chips, and other "family" items. Though the broaster is no longer around, Helen still cooks at home on the same grill that used to cook hamburgers in the burger bar.

By far the most famous culinary creation of Jed's Burger Bar was probably not even on the original menu. "Pink sauce," as Helen called it, was made by combining ketchup, mayonnaise, and sweet pickel relish. The original concoction, known today as "fry sauce," is enjoyed by burger and fry lovers all over the state and the country, and was invented right here in Richmond, Utah by Helen herself.

Big-J's also received some big time exposure when it was featured in a scene from the hit film Napoleon Dynamite. "I didn't even know it," Helen said, "my nephew called me from Provo and told me he saw Jed's Burger Bar in this movie."

It is said that change is the only constant in life, even life in Richmond.

"It's sad to see it go" Helen said. However, Jed's Burger Bar will live on in the memories of the thousands of people who have ever stopped in for a burger. Personally, I've only been there once but I know that from now on every time I dip my fries in fry sauce I'll think of Jed's.


Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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