The desire to feed the community of Murray must run in the Hudgins family.
Previously Quarter’s Campus Grill, Mr. J’s Grill and Pub is striving to bring a fun dining experience to Murray State’s campus while staying true to its original owner.
The restaurant, located at 200 N. 15th St. across from Wilson Hall, was originally Mr. Ed’s Grill. It was then leased to the owners of Quarter’s, Leslie and Maurice Wormsbacher, when Edward Hudgins decided to retire.
Edward’s son, James Hudgins (or “J”), now manages Mr. J’s.
Mr. J’s officially opened July 26 but required renovations before serving customers.
“My dad was planning on doing a complete remodel anyway,” James said. “So, I asked him if I sold all of my stuff – my Harley and two street rods – to help fund (Mr. J’s) if we could open it. He reached into his retirement savings some, too, to help fund it. This is what we came up with, and I didn’t want him running it. He’s 64 years old, and I want him to enjoy life.”
The renovation process consisted of raising the ceiling 2.5 feet, putting in a galvanized ceiling, building a new bar made of oak, purchasing new tables and chairs, laminating the floors and redesigning the kitchen.
“It’s a little different (from Mr. Ed’s),” James said. “It’s completely been removed 100 percent, front to back, floor to ceiling. We spent lots of time and put a lot of effort into trying to bring a nice business onto campus that has good taste. All of the woodwork is custom, thanks to River Valley Woodworks.”
There are some pieces of Mr. Ed’s that are still a part of Mr. J’s today. For example, the kitchen still holds the original grill from 1978 when Mr. Ed’s opened. Mr. J’s also still displays some of the original Murray State sports memorabilia from Mr. Ed’s.
“(That grill) is a heck of a machine,” James said. “It makes some of the best burgers you’ll ever eat. It just seasons them so well and cooks them just right.”
Menu-wise, the food is pretty much the same as Mr. Ed’s, James said, though a few additions have been made. Mr. J’s serves beer and has several different types of burgers from which one can choose. The menu also includes appetizers and wings that James claims are second to none.
James said the responses he has heard from people who have seen the changes of the building through the years have been positive.
“The ABC lady, Kendra, when she walked in, her jaw dropped at just how nice of a place we’ve built here,” he said. “That was a huge compliment to us – seeing the reaction of people who have been here before, and then coming here now and seeing all of the upgrades and changes. It’s still a family-oriented and run business. Me and my dad spent seven months on non-stop work, effort and thought to bring a nice place onto campus.”
As for Mr. Ed himself, James said he is very pleased with the progress of the restaurant.
Story by Anna Taylor, Staff Writer