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Jack Horner's Restaurant
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Jack Horner's Restaurant
When William Paul Owen bought the 29-seat restaurant on the corner of Akron’s East Market and Forge streets in 1946, he didn’t change the name because he couldn’t afford to replace the sign. What he and his family did do was transform little Jack Horner’s into one of the most frequently visited restaurants in town for five decades.
Home-cooked meals, affordable prices and great service were synonymous with Horner’s. So were the Sir Beef (roast sirloin of beef) sandwich, the lightest hotcakes around, great pies, fresh-cut hash browns and french fries, as well as daily specials, breads and dinner rolls—made from scratch.
Open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m., Horner’s extensive menu, heavy on the breakfasts, had something for everyone. William James “Bill” Owen, the son of the founder, worked at the restaurant from its beginnings.
On a typical weekend in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Horner’s used 30 large cases of eggs, “about 120 eggs per case, and every single one made to order,” Owen says. On Sundays, the kitchen went through 25 gallons of pancake mix.
Owen credits his “great staff” with much of the restaurant’s success. Offering paid uniforms, pregnancy leave and profit-sharing, the Owen family invested in its employees. “We had 85 people who stayed with us for
35 years,” he says.
A great location with easy access to the freeway, Horner’s was a favorite of Goodyear employees. The University of Akron crowd and employees and visitors from Akron City Hospital, O’Neil’s and Polsky’s were round-the-clock regulars.
The original building that housed Jack Horner’s was torn down to make way for a new 75-seat restaurant in 1960. Three more additions followed until 1984 when the restaurant grew large enough to seat 400 people.
By the mid-90s, the demographics were changing dramatically. When Summa Health System offered to buy the Horner’s property, Owen took them up on it, closing the center-city location in 1996.
Bill Owen and his son, William John Owen, tried to make a go of it on the west side at Fairlawn Town Center, but high rent and a percentage of sales to out-of-town landlords ate up all the profits. Three years into their five-year lease, Jack Horner’s Restaurant closed its doors for good.
Owen is “still shell shocked about closing the place. It was a great business to run, very profitable and we enjoyed it immensely,” he says.