Owner of Jack's saw potential

11/10/2009 12:00 AM

11/10/2009 12:04 AM

Joe Moore had been telling his wife, Barbara, about his dream to buy Jack's North Hi Carryout, a Wichita tradition that hadn't been open since a fire in February 2007.

And then last fall she went with him for her first look at the building across from North High School on 13th Street.

"All I could say was, 'You have to pay money for that?' " Barbara Moore said Monday. "It was a burned-out hulk. I was a little hesitant.

"But I couldn't see what he could see. He's the entrepreneur. He had a vision."

A vision that became a reality. Mr. Moore bought the building in October 2008, then opened the refurbished hamburger joint in March.

He died Friday after having a heart attack at the restaurant on Nov. 2. He was 52.

Barbara Moore plans to keep her husband's dream alive. Jack's has been closed since last week, but she said it will reopen Wednesday.

"I'm going to step in," she said. "I can't look too far ahead. It's scary.

"But there are a lot of really good people who work there."

Jack's has been around since 1951. The Moores first began going there shortly after they were married in 1981 and lived near the restaurant.

Mr. Moore was a car buff and spent a number of years in construction. He and his wife met through mutual friends when both worked at Boeing.

"But he always wanted to have a restaurant," Barbara Moore said. "He had talked about it for years and years. He's a really good cook."

In re-establishing Jack's, Mr. Moore maintained its nostalgic atmosphere and added a few of his own touches, such as old Coca-Cola signs. A steady stream of customers since March indicates the hamburgers retained their tasty tradition.

Mr. Moore threw himself into the hard work of running Jack's, but he was also well suited for the social aspect of the business.

"Joe is so friendly," Barbara Moore said. "He didn't know a stranger. Customers would come in and ask for him so they could talk."

Customers range from high school students to lawyers.

"He wouldn't allow the kids to use any bad language or for them to get too rowdy," Barbara Moore said. "But it wasn't all don't, don't, don't. He really enjoyed the kids."

That's not all he enjoyed.

"He never grew tired of hearing me tell someone, 'Oh, Joe was right about buying Jack's,' " she said.

A memorial service will be at 10:30 a.m. today at Watson Reflection Pointe's Garden Chapel, 3201 S. Webb Road.

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