Morgan Memories – Then and Now – Jim’s Drive-In Bar & Grill
At the southern end of the northern Morgan Avenue, between Haussling Place and the north bound lanes of Route 35, is a restaurant. There has been a restaurant on this site since at least the 1950’s, if not long before that, and it is good to see that this is still a viable site for one. I can’t name all of the restaurants which have occupied this building over the years but can for certain name the following:
- Jim’s Drive-In
- Spanish Riviera
- La Marina Restaurant
As a kid in early elementary school, I recall repeatedly riding my banana bike around the curved sidewalk of this building – as well as the smell of stale booze coming out of the trash bins in back of the restaurant. I also think I used to deliver “The News Tribune” newspaper there but don’t fully recall if really I did or not. There would have been no other reason for me actually going into the building as a kid otherwise. On the Jim’s Drive-In picture post card, you can see the “Bar Grill” signage over the top if the building. If you look closely at the to-be-reposted write-up regarding “The Magical Castle on Willow Street”, you will see the back of this sign. What a relief it was to have found this picture post card as it resolved the mystery regarding that backward sign for me.
Just to the left of Jim’s in this image used to be a tiny truck stop with an apartment on top which I first knew as Molly’s. Later it became DeVito’s. For a while, kids on this side of Route 35 used to wait inside Molly’s during the winter time waiting for the bus to take us to Selover School and maybe even the Junior High School. I recall there was a pin ball machine and standing around the pool table endlessly hearing “Bye-Bye Miss American Pie” played on the juke box or perhaps a radio. There was a small counter where truck drivers or commuters would have breakfast in the morning. I think when the DeVito’s acquired the business, they built or expanded the second floor and lived there. Now there are no remains of this little place. If anyone has any photos of this building, please make a comment at the end of this posting so I can contact you.
Interestingly enough, the first time I saw a tattoo was on Molly’s son whose name I don’t think I ever knew. It is considerably easier to see one these days. According to a recent Rutgers University survey, 19% of the 1000 registered New Jersey voters surveyed have one.
The below picture shows what this building looks like today. Notice a gas station to the left of the restaurant. For many years this was Ed Ryan’s Sunoco gas station. Now it is another brand. Finally, after all these years away from Morgan, I took the opportunity one night during a trip to Morgan in August 2012 to visit the La Marina Restaurant to have dinner. It was a very pleasant experience, the food was very good, the service very courteous and attentive, and I was greatly impressed on how beautifully the inside of the building has been finished.
Something about the shape of the Jim’s sign reminds me of Bozo the Clown or Chuckles, the clown toy in Toy Story 3. I only now realize the shape of the sign is the outline of a hamburger combined with an arrow pointing to the building.
Originally posted on September 3, 2012.