Sometimes we think we have to drive hours to find a unique place.
My wife and I wanted to “get out of the house” today, so I said, “let’s go to Johnson’s Restaurant.” 40 miles and 50 minutes later we pulled into the parking lot at 11:48. This was not the first time we have eaten there, so we knew to get there before noon to find a seat.
Luckily there were two seats left at the bar next to the cash register. Cash register is correct, because they only accept cash, no plastic. We ordered what almost all do at Johnson’s, a cheese burger all the way, an order of fries and sweet tea. What makes the place unique is who shows up to eat. I have never eaten there without getting to know some interesting couple from someplace that were very engaging and delightful. The couple next to us at the bar today was from Lenoir County not far from Kinston. The husband was going to some sawmill north of Mebane to get some heart pine lumber available only at that place, to build some piece of furniture. They just saw the restaurant sign and stopped. I always think we would get the prize for driving the farthest. But Cary qualifies only as yet another town because people come from all parts of North Carolina to experience the 1946 dinner. However by far, the locals make up the most clientele.
The owner, Claxton Johnson, has been running Johnson’s Restaurant since 1946 and is still the driving force for its success. Located on US 64 it’s one of many food places, along that stretch of road, but apparently it’s never hurting for customers. Claxton, said, “We started out as a curbside place back in ’46. I was only about 5 when I started. It’s been in the family ever since.”
To prove his statement two of his grandsons, Tristan and Caemon Johnson, cook burgers, run the cash register and seem to fill in where necessary to make sure customers are well taken care of.
I was able to get a picture of our waitress only when she slowed long enough to take the order of our new friends from Lenoir County. My other pictures of her were too blurry to print. She hardly ever stopped. The same goes for the other waitress.
“How many burgers have you cooked?” I asked Braxton. His reply, “I have no idea.” “A million, two million?” I queried. “No idea,” he once again replied. I didn’t ask him how much hamburger he ground before opening, since I knew the answer from my last visit, “I have no idea.”
I also knew when the restaurant closed for the day because, I had asked him that question before, “it’s when the hamburger meat gives out,” was his pat answer. Somehow I was supposed to know that.
So, if you just want to “get out of the house” and take a short trip, give Johnson’s Restaurant in Siler City North Carolina, a try. You will be blessed with a good meal and make some new friends.
Writer’s Group, OLLI member, Author