Tuesday 02 Sep 2014

Jimmy’s Restaurant

You may wait in a line for the good, cheap meals at Jimmy’s. Then again, you might also recognize someone in the restaurant.

Jimmy’s is a magnet for actors and athletes at 801 South Broadway in Fells Point. On the Sunday we were there, an actor from The Wire, Nathan Corbett came in and sat down next to me at the counter. Nathan played a car thief in the celebrated HBO’s series’ fourth season.


NATHAN CORBETT

“I didn’t have a big part,” Nathan said. “I didn’t get killed off.”

Jimmy’s owner, Nick Filipidis rattled off a list of well known people who have eaten there, I caught Muhamand Ali’s and Bill Cosby’s names. He also mentioned former Orioles Jim Palmer and Rick Dempsey, and actors Andre Braugher and Ned Beatty.

Nick is related to Jim Filipidis, the co-owner of the Honey Bee Diner in Glen Burnie we visited recently. Nick’s and Jim’s fathers were brothers.

Jimmy Filipidis opened Jimmy’s Restaurant in 1946. Nick and his son, Jimmy, took over the restaurant in 1981.

Nick Filipidia says the most popular meal served at Jimmy’s is breakfast.


DORIS KIRKWOOD WITH DAUGHTERS KAREN SMITH AND MELODY KELLY

So, I ordered the French toast for $3.89 (I could also order an extra slice of French toast for $1.60) and a side of sausage for $1.95. The French toast was light, sweet with a hint of vanilla. Maple syrup – which was also not bad — was in a tall, plastic container. The sausage was warm, crunchy and lightly seasoned.

My companion ordered the rib eye steak and cheese sub for $5.79. An important component, the bread, was fresh and there was ample cheese which he described as “messy, the way a sub should be!” Large slices of Maryland tomatoes and fresh potato chips were served with the meal.

Sitting next to us on their initial visit to Jimmy’s was Doris Kirkwood and her two daughters, Karen Smith and Melody Kelly.

The threesome make it a point to get together frequently and Karen told me she was the one who suggested Jimmy’s.

“Everyone in my office talks about this place, so we had to come see it for ourselves,” said Karen, who works at Traveler’s Insurance Company in Hunt Valley, almost 30 miles north of Jimmy’s in Fells Point. Karen had the crab cake platter for $17.99. She was delighted with the large lumps of crabmeat, the well blended spices and she told me she could definitely taste Old Bay seasoning and parsley. Karen added that she was glad the Jimmy’s crab cake had omitted the mustard.

“The side salads are even good!” Karen said. “Macaroni and potato salad, they are a little spicy, tasty!”

Karen’s mom had the Greek chicken wrap for $8.35. “The onions, tomato and feta cheese in the wrap have a little punch to them,” she said. “It’s different. Not at all what I expected. Not bad!”

Melody’s chicken rice soup, $1.75 was “tasty and creamy. It’s just what I wanted, really good!”

Jimmy’s owner, Nick Filipidis sat at the end of his counter while the never ending line of customers waiting for tables were seated. It was a busy day at Jimmy’s, which is open daily from 5 AM to 7 PM.

The best part about his job, Nick says, is the people. “We just lost a customer, 72 years old. He came in here every morning, read the newspaper and had his breakfast. He lived around the corner and he’d been coming here for as long as I can remember.”

Nick added that he sent a donation and a Mass card to the family. “I’m not Catholic,” he said, “So I had another customer who is get one for me.”

Nick told me that WJZ TV, the CBS affiliate in Baltimore broadcasts a morning show, “Manic Mondays” each week at Jimmy’s. The show started about a decade ago when one of WJZ’s personalities called him and suggested they broadcast from Jimmy’s. For the first month, the WJZ crew aired the show from a different location each Monday. The idea was to ask people on the street to sing songs about Monday.

“About a month after the Monday shows started, WJZ called me back and asked if they could broadcast only from here each Monday,” Nick said. “We’ve had four and five piece bands set up here at 5 AM when we open. We’ve busy at that hour ever since.”


View Jimmy’s Restaurant in a larger map


CARYN COYLE IS AN ADOPTED BALTIMOREAN. ASIDE FROM ANYTHING CHOCOLATE, HER FAVORITE FOODS ARE CHESAPEAKE BAY CRAB, SILVER QUEEN CORN, AND MARYLAND TOMATOES. SHE CAN BE EMAILED HERE.

PHOTOS BY CARYN COYLE

About the author

Frequent WTBH contributor Caryn Coyle writes about arts, culture and food for the CBS Baltimore and has had fiction published in a dozen literary journals including Smile Hon You're In Baltimore, Gargoyle, JMWW, The Little Patuxent Review, Loch Raven Review, Midway Journal, The Journal (Santa Fe) and the anthology City Sages: Baltimore. She won the 2009 Maryland Writers Association Short Fiction Award, third prize in the first Delmarva Review Short Story Contest, 2011 and honorable mentions for her fiction from the Missouri Writer's Guild (2011) and the St. Louis Writer's Guild (2012).

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