This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Though Jim's Family Restaurant has only been open for five years, it's the kind of place that makes customers feel as if they've been going there forever.
Part of the reason the restaurant feels familiar is the friendly staff, but "hopefully it's the food, too," said Becky Fuskandrakis, who co-owns and manages the restaurant with her husband, Michael. "But it's the waitresses and the atmosphere and how people are treated when they're here."
The Jim's in Sandy is the third in a chain of eight Utah restaurants started by Michael's father, Jim. He was born in Crete and immigrated to Canada, where he owned a chain of restaurants called Boston Pizza. He made a stop in Salt Lake City 24 years ago on his way to Las Vegas and decided to stay.
The original Jim's opened in 1983 in West Valley and is still operated by Jim's wife, Kathy. Four of the Jim's restaurants are run by the Fuskandrakis family. The other four are franchises. All of the Jim's restaurants have the same menu, which includes breakfast items, burgers, salads, steaks, homemade soup and Greek specialties.
Becky said when Jim eats at one of his
restaurants, he is typically a "bacon-and-eggs man because he gets all that good Greek cooking at home." But the elder Fuskandrakis does occasionally do some experimental cooking at the restaurants just for himself.
"He has an omelet that he makes that he puts french fries in," said Becky. "At first when I looked at it, I said, 'I don't know about this, Dad.' But it's actually really good."
Still, Becky says they have no plans to add the french fry omelet to the menu, as she's afraid customers would have the same initial reaction she did.
If the menu is famous for one thing, it has to be "Jim's Breakfast," which combines home-style potatoes with Swiss and American cheeses, two kinds of meat (bacon, ham or sausage), three eggs cooked to order and a choice of pancakes or toast, all for $6.55.
The fluffy, dinner plate-sized pancakes alone are enough for a meal. Though Becky said she has seen people finish it, many people order an extra plate to share it or take leftovers home.
"Sometimes we joke with them and say, 'You can't leave until your plate's finished,'" she said. "They look at me like, 'Are you serious?'"
Michael believes it's not just the quantity of the food that keeps people coming back, but the quality.
"Everything we do is fresh," he said. "We hand-cut our steaks. Our salsa is fresh. The cooks are back there chopping celery and onions and boiling it up for soup, just like your grandma used to."
Becky estimates that 70 percent of the business is from regular customers, some who come in two or three times a day. Many of them are waiting in the parking lot in the morning when the restaurant opens.
"If my people are late, they say, 'C'mon, get in there. We want our coffee,'" said Becky.
There is another group that comes in every day at 2 p.m.
"They come and have coffee and joke around with the waitresses and have a good time," said Becky, whose favorite part of her job is the staff and customers.
Both Michael and Becky put in many hours of work and are typically there every day, as the restaurant is open 363 days a year, closed only for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Michael said their hands-on approach is part of the success of the business.
"How often do you go into other restaurants and see the owner there? Never. We get to know a lot of our customers by name," he said.
"We want to make sure our customers are being taken care of and they're always taken care of when the boss is there."