Birmingham locals share memories of now closed John’s City Diner

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Historic Birmingham restaurant John’s City Diner has closed. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Yesterday, the owners of downtown Birmingham staple John’s City Diner announced they have closed after 19 years in business. The original John’s Restaurant, which opened in 1944, has served the community under various ownership for almost 80 years.

Since we reported the news, Birmingham residents have shared memories of the beloved restaurant through the years.

Almost 80 years in the making

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A restaurant with almost a century of history. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

After the closing announcement yesterday, we asked our readers on Facebook to share their favorite memories of John’s and the response was overwhelming.

Many commenters had been patrons of the restaurant for decades, remembering the original John’s Restaurant from their childhood:

“As a little girl (I am almost 60) my daddy and mother would take us here on Friday night’s. As a family, this was so much fun! This makes my heart hurt. So many wonderful memories at John’s!”

Kellie Howse Hopkins via Facebook

“So sad John’s closed. I ate many lunches there when I worked downtown over 40 years ago. Such good food, nice folks and so sorry they had to close!”

Carol Dunston Skees via Facebook

Impact of John’s City Diner

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Shannon and Shana Gober operated John’s City Diner for almost 20 years. (Nathan Watson/ Bham Now)

Other users commended the Gobers, who took over John’s in 2004 and renamed it John’s City Diner, for revitalizing a classic spot:

“The Gobers opened JCD [John’s City Diner] 19 years ago reinventing the space with a nod to the past and a vision for the future and they served the city well. I’m hopeful that another visionary will take that location and build on its past with something we all will want to embrace and enjoy. I will dearly miss them but I look forward to see what’s next!”

Bob Patterson via Facebook

“Classic restaurant, will be missed – so happy for my friend retiring and moving to the next adventure! We will miss JCD!”

Michael Marquis via Facebook

Iconic dishes

While a great restaurant is made up of several elements– service, atmosphere, charm, etc.– we all know at the end of the day it’s all about serving great food.

Both the original John’s and the modern John’s City Diner were beloved for their famous Southern comfort dishes. While the original John’s served primarily seafood specialties– “Slaw, corn sticks and trout almandine!” as one user commented– they are most renowned for John’s famous slaw dressing which is still sold today in grocery stores across the state.

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Famous slaw dressing from the original John’s Restaurant. (John’s Famous Slaw on Facebook)

John’s City Diner, however, revamped the menu with some modern touches. Some favorites noted by commenters were “the famous meatloaf” and “great chicken and waffles.” One user said “if I would have known, I would have come for one more piece of white chocolate bread pudding!”

Looking forward

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“Thank You Birmingham. It was “Nice” to be with you,” said former owner Shannon Gober. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Well, it’s fair to say that John’s City Diner will be missed by many people in the Magic City. Whether you visited the original John’s decades ago or stopped by John’s City Diner last week, this legendary city landmark is a part of Birmingham history.

While we currently don’t know what’s next for the Gobers or the John’s legacy, we will always have lasting memories of its great food, service and Southern hospitality through the years.

What are you going to miss atJohn’s City Diner? Let us know on Instagram + Facebook.

Grace Howard
Grace Howard
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