Story by Sabra Jackson, Staff writer
Mr. J’s Grill and Pub, a favorite local hangout for many students, closed its doors Aug. 11, just days before students were to return to campus.
Luckily for students, however, owner James Hudgins said Mr. J’s may soon reopen, possibly under a new name.
Hudgins said he closed the doors because of personal issues, and has spent time reflecting on the era of his life in which he operated the business.
Hudgins said customers will recognize the new owners as former employees of Mr. J’s prior to its closing, but their names have not yet been released.
“They are good people,” Hudgins said. “I have the utmost confidence in the two young people who are now going to be the owners.”
Hudgins predicts that it will take at least 90 days for the restaurant to reopen. The new owners will need time to file paperwork and renew the liquor license.
Hudgins said one of his favorite things about serving the Murray community was his customers and staff began to feel like family.
Hudgins has lived in Murray since he was 4 years old. He said he plans to stay around town, but is returning to his old profession.
Before owning the pub, Hudgins hauled new cars for more than 20 years.
Hudgins said one of his proudest accomplishments was being awarded the best bar by The Murray State News four years in a row.
Hudgins said he walked into the building one day while his father was cleaning it up and they spoke about it being up for lease. Hudgins decided to ask his father to give him a chance at owning the building and give it “the old college try.”
After selling all of his equipment, CDs and his motorcycle to buy the building, Hudgins said he tried his best to build something special.
“That was an awesome four years,” Hudgins said. “I have absolutely no regrets for doing what I have done. There is sorrow that runs very emotionally deep for me that I’m no longer there.”
Hudgins thanked the students for being the people he will miss most.
“Thank you,” Hudgins said. “You have helped make my life great for four years.”
Mr. J’s used to be known as The Hub in the 1960s. The restaurant was one of three hangouts when Murray residents Bob McGaughey and Roger Reichmuth were students at Murray State. Those three hangouts included The Hub, The Hut and The College Grill.
McGaughey said you could walk into The Hub at 10 a.m. and see students dancing and playing card games such as hearts, bridge and rook.
McGaughey said his favorite memories revolve around the former owners of The Hub, Jack and Jo Shroat.
“[Jo] was like everyone’s grandmother,” McGaughey said about Shroat. “You would walk in and she would say ‘well how was your class, you went didn’t you?’”
After The Hub, the building was known as Saturday’s and Mr. Ed’s Coffee Shop.