Behind the scenes look at JR’s Diner

The city of Centralia, Mo. is divided. Literally.

Chain restaurants — your McDonald’s, your Subway and Pizza Hut — line the highway. The downtown square, however, is dotted with small businesses owned by Centralia residents. This is where we found JR’s Diner.

Beth Pearl wrote an article detailing the struggle Centralia residents face as they work to keep their community’s identity in tact at the same time that they grow economically. We (Beth Jared Grafman and I) decided to take a look at JR’s Diner, one of the businesses in the heart of downtown, and show people what these places mean to the community.

The end result can be found here.

There are a few things that we had to cut from the final edit for the sake of time, so I’ll put them here instead:

  • Jodie wakes up at 3:30 every single morning to get to the diner by 4. They open at 5, and there’s usually a line at the door — especially if it’s cold raining outside.
  • Another restaurant across the street, Carlan’s steak house, is open for lunch and dinner (JR’s is open for breakfast and lunch). One of the reasons the owners of Carlan’s don’t open the restaurant for breakfast is that they want to cooperate with JR’s and avoid undue competition.
  • When Jodie says she knows her customers by name, she’s  not kidding. And there were a lot of people there. She remembers what people like to drink and what they usually order.
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