This week we mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of The Golden Jersey Inn.
The idea was to create another restaurant on our farm that catered to our Guests who had ‘grown up’ with us, but were looking for more choices and options. 20 years ago, the invasion of the ‘chain’ restaurants was in full swing. There were (and are!) lots of other places to choose when deciding where the family is going out for a meal. Many of our Guests had been visiting Young’s for years, but their children were older and they were going to other restaurants on some occasions. We decided that the best way to beat the competition was to build our own competition right here on the farm.
We wanted this restaurant to be different from the Dairy Store – with the menu and the service designed to create a somewhat quieter, comfort food kind of atmosphere. The friendly, smiling and helpful faces would be the same – but our menu would expand out to items other than sandwiches. Familiar menu items that might bring back memories of a family meal with grandma. Over the years the bestsellers have been Grandma’s Meatloaf, MaMa’s Chickn-n-Dumplin’s, Beef & Noodles and Buttermilk Chicken served as a meal, on a sandwich or on a salad. The past five years has seen another bestseller coming on strong – Young’s Deep Fried Breaded Cheddar Curds!
While many of our menu items have a story, we think the best is when we figured out how to make the homemade MaMa’s Chickn-n-Dumplin’s (including the spelling!). Brian Patterson, who was the general manager of The Golden Jersey Inn at the time (he’s now general manager of The Dairy Store) told us of his grandma’s (mama’s) amazing chicken & dumplings. We were struggling to come up with a good recipe that scaled up well to larger quantities. We asked Brian to get the recipe from his mama. He reported back in a couple days that there was no recipe – mama just added some of that, a handful or two of this, a pinch of this, cooked the chicken for awhile, then boiled the dumplings and it all came together somehow. Brian became the recipe detective – his task was to follow mama around the next time she made chicken & dumplings and write down the procedures and to stop her and measure the ingredients before she added them in to the pot. The result truly is amazingly tasty – the outcome of mama’s cooking ability and Brian’s perseverance in getting a recipe we could use!
We wanted the Golden Jersey Inn building to look like it belonged on our farm. We looked around and found a company just north of the Toledo area called Riverbend Timber Framing (located in Blissfield, Michigan) that built authentic post and beam buildings – the same construction method that was used to build our 1869 era barn. The building has served us well over the years – it’s very well insulated and energy efficient. And yes, it is held together by the wood pegs you see pounded in the posts and beams – just like our 1869 barn.
Thanks to our Guests who have visited us at The Golden Jersey Inn these past two decades. We appreciate it!