It’s been nearly five months since Jim Jensen received the call that an abandoned car was parked in his restaurant’s kitchen, leaving a sedan-sized hole in Jimmy J’s Dairy Freeze.
But on Friday, Jensen said his burger and shake joint will be back and open for business with the first customers being served at 11 a.m. Monday.
“It’s been a long, drawn out battle — 13 to 14 hours a day,” Jensen said. “But that’s all behind me.”
On Friday, Jensen said the city inspector gave Jimmy J’s the nod to reopen the iconic burger shack.
Reopening the restaurant has been a stress-filled full-time job, Jensen said, involving two insurance companies, managing contractors and personally overseeing each step of the reconstruction project.
The owner and grill-maestro is ready to get back to doing what he does best.
“Cooking is what I do for a living, and I haven’t been able to take care of my customers, my regulars,” he said. “This has taken way too long.”
Though some of the cosmetic repairs are still a work in progress, including some siding and the planned awning to restore Jimmy J’s to its Dairy Freeze roots, Jensen is moving full-steam ahead.
So are his customers.
“I got a list of regulars that come and see me,” he said. “I got calls, two or three every single day since we’ve been closed. They miss it.”
A lot of the calls were customers clamoring for Jimmy J’s soup during the the winter months and early spring, the owner said.
And though it’s nearing summer, Jensen is giving the customers what they want.
“Soup is back on the menu,” he said.
But something Jensen doesn’t plan on bringing back is another lengthy repair process.
Ten days before the car crash that put Jimmy J’s out of business for five months, Jensen said he received a call that another car had crashed through the barriers protecting his parking lot from the loop that connects Broadway to Main Street. That time, the car was inches from the structure.
“A car had impaled itself on one of my barrier poles, six inches away from the building,” he said. “A week later, I get a call that a car made it into the building. That’s when I saw it. It was ironic if anything.”
And though there’s been two wrecks that have threatened to destroy the burger and shake joint located at the corner of G Street NW, Jensen’s not worried about having a third.
“I think I used my two strikes,” he said. “I haven’t had anything like this happen before for five years. I feel safe.”