Ernie’s has served its last potato cake.
The downtown landmark closed its doors yesterday and today signed the business over to the owner of a Harrisonburg restaurant, Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint, Ernie’s owner Aimee Simmons said.
Simmons wanted to get out of the restaurant business because of rising food prices.
“If we go up on our menu prices customers get irate about it,” she said. “It is almost impossible to stay in business without raising food prices.”
Simmons said she’d been looking to sell the business for two years. When Jack Brown’s showed interest in Ernie’s location on the downtown market, Simmons said she traveled to Harrisonburg several times to make sure it was a good fit for Roanoke.
“Seeing the way they run their business, I just fell in love with the place,” Simmons said. “I think it’s going to be a huge benefit to downtown.”
Jack Brown’s specializes in burgers (how about an Elvis, with peanut butter, smoked bacon and cheese?) and sells 100 kinds of beer.
Ernie’s was founded in the mid-1980s by Ernie Arthur, who opened it after closing the nearby Boiler Room.
Simmons, who was a server at the restaurant, bought it four and a half years ago.
I will be talking with the owner of Jack Brown’s soon, and plan to share details about the new restaurant in an upcoming Retail Roundup column.