Junior’s Owner is Hoping for a Third ‘Resurrection’
Posted April 21, 2011 | Atlanta, GA
This isn’t the first time Junior’s Grill has had to shut its doors, and owner Tommy Klemis is hopeful that it won’t be the last.
This morning, the line at Junior's Grill wrapped around the building. The restaurant will close its doors at 2:30 p.m. today.
“All I’m asking for is for someone to help me find a way to keep Junior’s going for another 37 years, so I can be around when we celebrate our 100-year anniversary,” Klemis said. “I would be a part of any initiative that gets us there.”
The campus favorite has a long history of being “resurrected” — as Klemis likes to say — which is why he is hoping for just one more miracle. The first resurrection came in the 1960s when Junior’s moved from the corner of Techwood Drive and North Avenue to a location across from Smith Dormitory.
Then, in the 1990s, Junior’s was demolished to make way for the 1996 Olympic Games.
“But lo and behold — thanks to the students and alumni — we were resurrected again,” Klemis said. “We were proclaimed a ‘Tech tradition’ and have been in our current location ever since.”
About three weeks ago, Klemis came to the conclusion that he couldn’t afford to keep Junior’s open. Today was the “break-even” day in terms of the restaurant’s expenses and revenue, so his intention was to quietly close and make a formal announcement to the campus community.
“Now, my soft closing is history; I was really hoping this would be low-key,” Klemis said.
As the news spread, Junior’s was swamped with customers. Although he wanted to avoid the publicity that would come with a public closing, Klemis now thinks that the outpouring of support from Tech’s community may be for the best.
“There’s already talk among the Georgia Tech nation that there might be a way to resurrect Junior’s,” he said.
Klemis has been an important member of the Tech family for most of his life, said Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson.
“His father ran Junior’s before him, and Tommy is also a Tech alumnus," Peterson added. "Through the way that he related to thousands of students, faculty, staff and alumni over the years he has become a cherished part of the Junior’s tradition. We wish him all the best.”
After the doors to Junior’s close today at 2:30 p.m., Klemis said his first priority will be taking care of his employees and doing everything he can to help place them in new jobs.
“Then, maybe I’ll start a weekly card game with [former Junior’s icon] Anne, or I would love to be a greeter at Chick-Fil-A,” he said. “But even as the doors to Junior’s close, there’s always hope that it will come back. We’ll just have to wait and see.”