R-MC Students, welcome to the newest section of the Yellow Jacket, where we give you inside information on Ashland’s best, worst, and most average local spots. Know of somewhere special that the student body ought to hear about? Tweet us your local favorites at @YJ_News!
If you head past the railroad tracks, past Iron Horse, past St. Anne’s Catholic Church, and keep going for a little while, you’ll stumble upon what appears to be a quaint, refurbished gas station on the side of the road. Jake’s Place is Ashland’s new burger and brunch hotspot, offering traditional southern comfort food with a down-home atmosphere to match.
Jake’s Place was constructed in 1926 as a garage and mechanic’s shop, run by an Ashland couple and their nephew, Jake Spears.
Spears inherited the building and property after the passing of his aunt and uncle and ran the shop with his wife, Rosalie, until the 1970’s, despite early ambitions to attend Randolph-Macon.
Jake and Rosalie were childless but made a tradition of making sure local children were able to attend Sunday morning church services. The couple would gather clothing donations for the children and give them a penny for the offering tray so that they wouldn’t feel left out.
It was only fitting that Wendy Yohman and her husband, current owners of the building and property, named their restaurant after the charitable local figure.
“Jake’s Place was (in the 1970’s) a place that people always felt comfortable and welcomed,” Yohman said. “This same comfort and community atmosphere is exactly what we wanted folks to feel when they visit us today.”
And Yohman’s aspirations have been realized.
“The Town of Ashland has been noth ing but supportive and excited about us cleaning up this building and continuing the tradition as Jake and Rosalie once did,” she said.
Yohman says that Jake’s Place has a leg up on local competition by having the “trifecta”: atmosphere, service, and food.
“Our atmosphere is unmatched by any other location in town; our servers do their best to make our customers feel special and our food is the freshest in town,” she said.
Jake’s Place smokes their barbecue, brisket, chicken, turkey, and meatloaf on premises and makes most food from scratch. The restaurant proudly uses local Virginia products such as Homestead
Creamery ice cream, Blanchard’s Coffee, and Sauer’s spices.
If you stumble into Jake’s Place, you’ll notice that the servers are wearing shirts that read, “Good Food, Good Meat, Good Lord, Let’s Eat.” Shirts bearing the same slogan are also available for purchase by customers.
“It is a prayer that our family has recited for years,” Yohman said. “I come from a tight-knit family with strong Christian values. I hope that our slogan reminds people to be thankful for their blessings.”
And thankful the Ashland community has been for the presence of the typically bustling little restaurant down the street.
Students and faculty from Randolph-Macon welcome a respite from tired Ashland dining stalwarts such as Trackside and Iron Horse.
“We offer students and faculty (from R-MC) a 10% discount on Wednesday evenings. I want to build a strong relationship with the College, not only because it is good for Jake’s Place, but I believe that other merchants in town also hope to build a solid relationship with students and faculty,” Yohman said. “It is a relationship that should be valued and encouraged.
Yohman also mentioned that she is an avid Jackets fan and is present at many sporting events on campus.
Yohman’s favorite item on the menu?
“We have so many amazing things,” she said. “I love the fried green tomatoes and the seafood and grits and the brisket…. And I could go on and on. But my favorite thing is the pulled pork barbecue – it’s the best barbecue I’ve ever had!”
For me, I am a huge fan of the buttery, flaky biscuits that come with breakfast at Jake’s Place – but I haven’t tasted the Priddy Burger yet.
In accordance with the rich history and tradition oozing from the restaurant, the juicy cheeseburger is named after longtime Ashland resident Sumpter T. Priddy, Jr. and his wife, Robin. Priddy was instrumental in donating time, effort and funds in order for Jake’s Place to be reborn. He purchased the
property in July of 2012 with the ambition of seeing new life breathed into a building treasured by the Ashland community.
“Had it not been for his investments, Jake’s Place would have remained an eyesore in the community instead of the lively place it is today,” Yohman said.
-May McNeil ’16, Junior Features Editor