Rockford eatery celebrates 30th anniversary

April 21, 2011 // 0 Comments

Jody’s has been first in fast since 1981 by BETH ALTENA Owner Don Mendham can’t begin to guess how many informal meetings have taken place in his restaurant since he opened the doors 30 at 503 E. Division when he was “just a kid” in 1981 and hasn’t stopped serving up good food fast since. Mendham already had years in the restaurant industry when he tired of telling families they had to relocate and he worried about being transferred himself. He decided to make the leap and open his own restaurant. He chose Rockford because it has first class schools and he loves the sense of community he felt here. He chose the location—then a sandy lot—and has welcomed diners of all types ever since. “I haven’t gotten rich, but I feel we’ve enriched the lives of others,” he said. “We’ve enriched the lives of those who have worked here over the years.” Mendham said his management style is to be a mentor to others. “Sometimes you encourage them, sometimes you suggest changes in behavior.” Mendham said his faith is a big part of how he runs his restaurant and he holds Bible studies in the building when business is slow. They consider the good book guidelines on how you should treat others. In 30 years, there has only been one Jody among his staff, which always number more than 30. Many have been with the restaurant for many years, including Cheryl Goldner, who many will recognize as the smiling face at the drive-thru. Goldner has been serving customers at Jody’s for 23 years, and jokes, “I guess I forgot to leave.” She said she started when her kids were little and now they are all grown up. “I just like it here.” Mendham said when he started, his children were young as well and one of the daughters said to her little sister, “Daddy’s making a job for himself.” If it is a job that keeps Mendham from getting away on vacation for any length of time, it has also been a labor of love. The motto of “great food fast” has been his goal and, ironically, now many fast-food chains are trying to do what he has always worked toward: premium food served […]