Birmingham Rewound

Jack’s Family Restaurant Is Alabama’s Answer to McDonald’s

Jack Cadell founded Jack's Hamburgers in 1960. They started serving their delicious grilled burgers and fries in the city of Homewood, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham. That location is still operating as their flagship Jack's Family Restaurant. The first location was a walk-up hamburger and hot dog stand that served 10 cent sodas, 15 cent french fries, 20 cent milk shakes, and a 20 cent "fish on a bun" sandwich. It was an instant hit because of quick service, friendly workers, and great food at great pricing.

Their motto of "Smiling Faces, Friendly Service" hasn't changed since those days. They serve quality food with a smile. Like their jingle says, "It keeps you coming back, back, back to Jack's, Jack's, Jack's."

By the mid 1960s, there were more than a half dozen locations in the metropolitan Birmingham area. There was the original Homewood location, Roebuck, 3rd Avenue West, Bessemer, Five Points West, Vestavia, Eastwood Mall, Alabaster, and Center Point. Jack's was already expanding into Mississippi and South Carolina.

With almost 200 locations now in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi, there's good food everywhere you turn at Jack's Family Restaurant. Now known just as Jack's, it's safe to say Jack's truly is "All About the South."

After the rapid expansion of the 1970s and the 1980s, many of these locations started to close, but one successful franchisee was still going strong. Benny LaRussa had bought a single Jack's Hamburger franchise in the 1960s while still working in his grocery business. By 1979, LaRussa said goodbye to groceries and went all-in, buying a franchise territory of 13 Jack's stores. In 1988, he expanded his territory to 33 stores. A short while later, Benny LaRussa bought the entire franchise plus the rights to the Jack's concept.

In 2015, Jack's was acquired by a fund managed by Onex Corporation, a private equity company based in Toronto, Canada. Four years later, Onex sold Jack's Family Restaurants to a private equity firm based in New York. Not much else is known about this deal involving one of the one South's favorite fast food restaurants. The current CEO is Todd Bartmess.

Jack's restaurants have changed from the original walk-up stand design with a welcoming slanted roof and orange and yellow stripes. In the late 1960s, Jack's morphed into full dine-in restaurants. Soon the drive-thru locations of Jack's were hopping, rivaling even McDonald's.

Jack's Family Restaurant even has a crispy chicken sandwich too. Alabama white sauce makes this one unique. Jack's says you can't get more Alabama than that. That white sauce also makes their cheeseburger deliciously Southern. Their cool coleslaw is second to none, and I know coleslaw intimately. Order a fried chicken combo dinner to feed the family or just yourself.

Need a great breakfast and need it in a hurry? Jack's breakfast items include biscuits and gravy, hash browns, and steak on a biscuit.