MarionMade! 2020 Celebrate Marion Honoree
There is a word that keeps repeating when you hear the Jer-Zee’s story and that word is family. It is a place that families have visited over several generations. It is a business that thinks of their employees as family. And finally, customers feel like family members because of the great customer service provided over the years.
The Jer-Zee Drive In’s story began in June of 1949 with Paul & Yuma Castor, selling ice cream only. Three different groups of owners have kept it going in these seventy-one years, with the second being George & Maxine Bosley and Ruth Bosley-Shelton & Dean Shelton, from 1966-1995.
Celebrating twenty-five years of ownership, in this tough pandemic year, Barb & Dean Pine are the Jer-Zee’s third owners. It is still located at the same location of 923 W Center St, with the iconic Jer-Zee name in the roof. The Pines are carrying on many of the traditions while making updates as needed. Some recent changes have been that credit cards are now accepted. The season is still February through mid-September, with the season closedown allowing the Pines to make changes for the next season. This year, they are planning an outside décor update that will have a retro-look.
It also is no longer a place to get just ice cream. It is also known for its hot dogs covered in the Jer-Zee’s signature coney sauce and other tasty sandwiches. The beloved coney sauce recipe was passed down from the Bosleys. This year with meat shortages, it was a challenge for the Jer-Zee to keep up with the demand.
The Jer-Zee’s selection of ice cream treats has expanded through the years, but with the novelties still made in-house. They include the Tally Ho sandwiches and JZ Bars – their nutty fudge bars. Their ice cream is soft serve, with a sherbet option. It is still the place where people stand in lines, no matter how cold in February, to get their Jer-Zee “hit” on the first day they reopen.
Each season they employ from 20-25 people. As Barb Pine shared, “We are hiring our second generation of employees. We even have employees come back to help us in their adult life. Many employees we hired as teens have worked through high school and college and some even will help out as needed even now.”
During the seasonal closedown, many of the staff still meet to celebrate birthdays and have lunch. They even have gathered for Christmas parties. Barb said, “The most positive thing is our long time relations that we have made with our employees….they really are family!”
For the Jer-Zee owners, one of the best things about the business is the friendships they have made over the years with the customers and with other businesses. With other ice cream “shops” and businesses in the area they often work together, helping each other out when needed. Barb shared how others helped them when they needed supplies during the pandemic, and how they have helped others when they needed machine parts that were delayed with delivery slowdowns.
Barb Pine stated, “It is a fun business and usually everyone is happy to see us when we open and sad when we close. The lines that we have always make us appreciative of our community and surrounding areas. It is also great to hear from customers that visit from out of state and make sure the Jer-Zee is on the list to visit.” The Jer-Zee Drive-In is often a planned photo backdrop for wedding and graduation photos, showing its importance to our community.
It is their spirit of giving, as a welcoming spot to get that special treat, that friendly smile, that service to the Marion community for over seventy years that makes the Jer-Zee Drive-In a Celebrate Marion/MarionMade! 2020 honoree.