Jay’s holds grand opening for Brenda’s Kitchen

Taking part in the ribbon cutting ceremony at Jay’s Fuel Stop were (row, l-r) Danny Olliff, husband of the late Brenda Olliff; Brenda’s daughters, Claudia Montford and Danielle Wilkes; Jay’s employees, Cheyenne Ballew, Catrina Eason, Stacy Dekle, Cherry Williams, Jennifer Fail, Janet Smith; Ramsee Fields, manager and Brenda’s daughter, with husband Weston Fields; Patsy Bowen, mother of Jay and Brenda; Brenda’s daughter, Natalie Turner; Tammy Coursey; Jay’s daughter, Jenny Brantley; Ashley Potts; Vicki Bowen, wife of the late Jay Bowen; Clint Turner, Brenda’s son-in-law; and Brittany Driggers.

Jay’s Fuel Stop has a whole new look and a brand new way to enjoy some country cooking!

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, the convenience store and truck stop located off of I-16 unveiled its new look and debuted Brenda’s Kitchen in a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by friends, family and loyal customers. 

“Forty-something years ago, Jay graduated from high school,” recalled Vicki Bowen, wife of the late Jay Bowen who first opened Jay’s Dairy Park restaurant and later Jay’s Fuel Stop. “I think he got off the bus and went into business right where Papa Buck’s is.

“A couple of years later, he added gas stations and diesel tanks to his restaurant business. This was the first self-service station on the interstate between Dublin and Savannah.

“Jay and I rolled along, and we built a small store here and moved out of the Dairy Park.”

In the late 80s, early 90s, the couple built a larger store, one that celebrated Jay’s passion -- trucking. “He loved the trucking business. He loved the customers, intertwining with them and spending time with them,” she said.

In the 1990s, Jay’s sister, Brenda Olliff, joined the business and started on a plan to update.

As Vicki had explained in a Facebook post, “Brenda had a vision to modernize Jay’s and bring it up to date with the latest equipment and add a kitchen with some southern home cooking.”

To the audience at the ribbon cutting, Vicki said, “Folks, you are looking at Brenda’s dream. This was what Brenda always wanted, and I want to thank all of our loyal customers of many years.

“I look around and I see people who have been with us for 40 years, or as long as I’ve been in Metter.”

Vicki then spoke of the role her niece (and Brenda’s daughter) Ramsee Olliff Fields for “what she has done to bring Brenda’s dream here today ... When Ramsee came to help us, Brenda was ready to retire ... and Ramsee wanted a change. Ramsee has come in and done a phenomenal job, putting in hours after hours while still working at Olliff & Fordham, still having a husband and four children at home. She’s worked her tail off to make this happen.”

In an emotional response to Brenda’s death in 2020, Vicki added to Ramsee, “Your mama’s smiling down today, baby, because this is just what she would have wanted.”

Vicki also recognized her mother-in-law, Patsy Bowen and aunt Becky Franklin, who is a designer and decorator, for their input in the design of the renovated building.

“They fixed it up to something I’d put up against anything on the interstate,” she said.

Also speaking were Chamber of Commerce  Executive Director Victoria Gaitten, who said, “It is absolutely beautiful and something for all of us to be proud of and have right here off the exit.”

Hannah Mullins, executive director of the Candler County Industrial Authority, added, “This is such a great asset for this exit. I know you service a lot of trucks that come in off the exit ... everybody loves Jay’s and what y’all do for the community.”

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