Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House
Exterior of Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House
Jim's sign lit up at night
Jim and Sally Tweel
Jim's counter on a busy day
Inside Jim's back in the day
John F. Kennedy visited Jim's during his 1960 presidential campaign
Muhammad Ali visited Jim's in 1994
Jim Tweel with President Bill Clinton
Jim Tweel with President George W. Bush
Jim Tweel with actor Dustin Hoffman
Jim's signature spaghetti with meat sauce
Jim's strawberry pie
Inside the restaurant
Jim Tweel with his staff
Current manager Jimmie Tweel Carder with waitresses
Backstory and Context
Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House has operated out of the same location for over eighty years. Jim Tweel borrowed $1,500 to open his own restaurant at 920 Fifth Avenue in 1938. There, Tweel and his wife Sally turned the old Kennedy Dairy Store into a small restaurant known for five-cent ice cream cones, ten-cent milkshakes, and fifteen-cent cheeseburgers. The restaurant often stayed open past midnight, as customers liked to come in after going to late-night dances. In 1944, Tweel met Roberto Elmoro, an Italian man who offered to help him open an Italian restaurant in Huntington. Tweel opened The Spaghetti House on July 14, 1944. The restaurant, which occupied the room next door to Tweel’s dairy bar, served Elmoro’s original recipe for spaghetti sauce.
The Spaghetti House quickly grew in popularity, and in 1948 the dairy bar and the spaghetti house were combined to form Jim's Grill and Spaghetti House. The restaurant was remodeled in 1962, the same year that it was formally renamed Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House. Over the decades that followed, Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House grew into a beloved local eatery that has stayed true to its roots. While slight changes were made to the signature spaghetti sauce recipe during the 1950s, it has not been altered since. Similarly, much of the same equipment from the second expansion is still in use today, including ovens, tables, and counters. Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House remains a family-owned restaurant, and many of its employees have worked there for over a decade. Since 1994, it has been managed by Jim Tweel’s daughter, Jimmie Tweel Carder. Jim Tweel passed away in 2005.
Over the years, Jim's has been a popular eatery for locals as well as celebrities and public figures who have passed through Huntington. Several politicians have dined at the restaurant while campaigning in the Tri-State area. John F. Kennedy ate breakfast at the diner during his 1960 presidential campaign, as did Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and Senator Bob Dole. Celebrities have also enjoyed the food at Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House, often taking advantage of the diner’s late hours. Some musicians, like Perry Como, went to Jim’s after giving concerts at the Keith Albee Theater or the Dreamland Pool’s Pavilion or Club Continental and Casino in Chesapeake. Muhammad Ali also visited the diner, as did Billy Joel and actor Dustin Hoffman. Signed photographs of Jim's many famous guests now adorn the walls of the restaurant.
The menu at Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House has changed little over the years. Its signature dish remains its spaghetti, which is served with a choice of meat or marinara sauce and a side of bread. The restaurant is also popular for its ribeye steak dinner, along with sandwiches such as fried haddock fish, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese, and grilled steak and cheese. The restaurant’s sides are also made from Jim’s original recipes, such as its coleslaw. Jim’s is also well known for its desserts, including its signature chocolate, coconut, and banana cream pies. Each May, the restaurant hosts “Strawberry Pie Week,” during which over one thousand fresh strawberry pies are served by the slice. Strawberry Pie Week celebrated its 45th year in 2019.
Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House, which celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2018, continues to provide outstanding food and service to the Huntington community. The diner has been able to hold its own due to its focus on quality, consistency, and good service. Many residents return to Jim’s year after year for its nostalgic atmosphere and dependable menu. While many aspects of the restaurant have not changed much over time, Jim’s has responded in small ways to the changing times. In 2018, the waitresses’ uniforms were changed from white dresses to modern-day slacks to attract younger workers and allow more comfort. The restaurant also recently began accepting credit and debit cards. In 2019, Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House became the first restaurant in West Virginia to be recognized as the America's Classics winner in the Southeast region by the James Beard Foundation, which has named the nation's beloved regional restaurants each year since 1998.
Bodie, Lillie. Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti updates uniforms, The Parthenon. November 14th 2018. Accessed May 1st 2020. https://marshallparthenon.com/18929/news/jims-steak-and-spaghetti-updates-uniforms/.
Gardner, Jennifer. Huntington restaurant celebrates 45 years of strawberry pie, Charleston Gazette-Mail. May 8th 2018. Accessed May 1st 2020. https://www.wvgazettemail.com/life/food_and_dining/huntington-restaurant-celebrates-45-years-of-strawberry-pie/article_25c6aacf-22f2-54bc-b94a-2e16ede246c9.html.
"The History of Jim's." Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House. Accessed September 26, 2016. http://jimsspaghetti.com/get_to_know_us/.
Juett, James. Restaurant for celebrities: Jim’s has hosted JFK, Ali and others in starry history, The Daily Independent. September 18th 2016. Accessed May 1st 2020. https://www.dailyindependent.com/news/restaurant-for-celebrities-jim-s-has-hosted-jfk-ali-and-others-in-starry-history/article_8699c1f8-7e19-11e6-9017-470b086567d3.html.
Sebert, Paul. GOOD EATS: Signature spaghetti remains staple at Huntington landmark restaurant, Huntington Herald-Dispatch. June 18th 2009. Accessed May 1st 2020. https://www.herald-dispatch.com/features_entertainment/good-eats-signature-spaghetti-remains-staple-at-huntington-landmark-restaurant/article_d9405ace-4f87-55ce-99d6-304a02bc7909.html.