One of Harrisonburg’s oldest continually operating restaurants, Jess’ Lunch, has closed its doors, according to owner Angeliki Floros.
George Galanis first opened Jess’ nearly a century ago in 1922 with an American business partner. The American and Greek food eatery, located at 22 S. Main St., is known for its “everything hotdog” with chili, onions and mustard.
According to Floros, somebody sent the LLC that owns the properties an offer in June about the restaurant and the parking lot at 54 S. Main St., which the family also owns.
“It wasn’t a real plan for us [to accept the deal], but it became a good opportunity,” Floros said. “It was a good offer and we couldn’t turn it down.”
She declined to give more details as the deal is not finalized. The Floros family manages the property and has received similar offers in the past for its downtown properties.
“It’s not easy if you want to have time with your family, especially for a single mom in the restaurant business,” she said of juggling time between property management, the restaurant and family commitments.
In January, the whole Floros family agreed to move forward on the deal, though it is incomplete, she said.
“My heart was splitting in these last months,” she said.
“Jess’ is always going to be in people’s heart no matter what,” Floros said. “It is not about the hot dogs. It’s not about the chili — it’s about life, how life changes and how downtown changes.”
Over the years, the Floros family has expanded its restaurant operations, opening a second Jess’ Lunch on East Market Street and Lil’ Gus’s in Grottoes. Those sites, Floros said, will remain open.
Jess’ Lunch No. 2 on East Market is under separate management.
Floros became a U.S. citizen in 2012 while working at Jess’ after first moving to the United States from Greece in 2002. She continues to work at Lil’ Gus’s.
Floros “pours her heart and soul keeping the Jess’ hot dog and name alive,” said Thomas Marchese, manager at Lil’ Gus’s.