Something to ‘Crowe’ about

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Features Editor

The greatest success stories are about those who started at the bottom and made their way to the top. Robert Jones is one of those self-made men.

He started in a dishpan of hot, soapy water in the kitchen of a Troy restaurant and is now the owner of a widely popular and very successful chicken eatery.

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Jones gives credit for the opportunity to own his own business to "the kindness of Sherroll Crowe."

"A lot of people would have sold out to some big company and forgotten about their employees, but not Mr. Crowe," Jones said. "When he got ready to sell his fried chicken business, he gave his employees the first chance to buy. I will always be grateful to him for that chance."

Jones gave did a lot of thinking and even more praying before he took Crowe up on his offer to buy Crowe’s Fried Chicken on the bypass in Troy.

He had been working for Crowe’s for years and knew he would be making a good investment, but there was more than one Doubting Thomas telling him, "You can’t," "You won’t" and "Don’t."

"But, I prayed about it and this was a decision God and came to together," Jones said, with a smile. "I went into this on faith and depended a good product, hard work and good employees to make it succeed."

Today, Jones certainly has something to Crowe about.

"Business is good," he said. "Real good. A large number of our customers are regular, local


And, I have a lot of people who tell me they go out of their way to get Crowe’s fried chicken. They might just have happened to stop in on their way to Florida the first time. Or, they might have had children here in college or just heard about us, but most people that come one time come back. That’s the kind of business I want to be known for."

Jones got an early start in the restaurant business and worked for and learned from people who knew how it should be done.

Jones came from a family of 12 and the older children were expected to find a job and earn some money at a rather early age.

"I started working at Grimes’ right here in Troy

when I was only 13 years old," he said. "Mr. J.D. and Miss Shorty knew how to run a restaurant, and they were the best teachers I could have had."

Jones started as a dishwasher and quickly worked his way up to cook, then waiter.

"I liked waiting tables the best," he said. "Well, because we got some tips – usually about 25 cents, but, most of all, I liked meeting the people."

Jones and the other waiters at Grimes’ cafe were more than waiters; they were entertainers.

"We never did write down an order," Jones said. "I don’t care if there was one person at the table or 21. We kept the orders in our heads. People didn’t see how we could do that, but we did and we always got it right."

Jones said many times a big table of diners would try to get him confused.

"One would order on this side of the table and one on the other, then, maybe one way down at the other end," Jones said."They thought if they jumped the orders around I would forget, but I didn’t."

Jones could have been a professional waiter, but, in the back of his mind there was this deep seeded idea that one day he might own his own restaurant and provide his diners with friendly service and "a good product." If he did that, he would be successful just like J.D. and Shorty Grimes.

When the Grimeses got out of the restaurant business, it became Ingram’s and Jones worked there until it closed.

"I didn’t have a job and really didn’t know where a waiter would find a job," he

said. "I heard Mr. Crowe was looking, so I got with him and we sat down and talked. I liked what I heard and he must have liked what he heard, because he hired me. Of course, I started at the bottom again. That’s the way Mr. Crowe said you need to train to be a manager. If you don’t know how to do something, how can you tell somebody else how to do it?"

He was soon promoted from cook to assistant manager and manager but still didn’t dare to dream of owning the business. But Crowe saw the potential in the manager of his business and gave him reason to dream.

"Owning a business is a dream come true," he said. "I want the people who walk out through that door to walk back in again. If we continue to give them a good product, they will. If we let up, they’ll soon stop coming. I’m not going to let up. I want to always have good service and a good product so I’ll keep having a good business. I owe that to myself and to Mr. Crowe."