PEORIA, AZ — "We're Open, Arizona" is now part of a bigger initiative here at ABC15, called, "The Rebound". We've received an overwhelming amount of emails from you, sharing stories about your favorite restaurants and ways they've impacted the community.
So, we would like to say thank you! We also want to thank viewer Donna for writing in about Mercer's Restaurant to talk about their food, their story and their creativity.
"We've gotta be one of the oldest restaurants in Peoria. [We've] been in the same spot 30 years, 33 years going on 34," said owner and partner Jacob Mercer, son of the man who created Mercer's Restaurant.
Jacob has been working there for about 18 years or so. "I started washing dishes as a young kid. Then, I started cookin'. So, I was frying fish, preppin', doing everything, kind of building my way, or kinda working my way up," Jacob explained.
Passionate about the grub and the business side of things, Jacob stepped in to keep it a family-run diner.
"We're comfort food. We're burgers, steaks, eggs, breakfast, lunch and dinner." Jacob continued, "Just, stuff you would find at a diner, but I'm trying to throw like a nice flair on it to make it fresh."
Mercer's provides all your favorites, while keeping the small-town charm. Jacob chuckled, smiled and said, "We know names, right. Like I know 350 humans that come in here, and they're like my grandparents. I see them on the same day at the same time, same meal." Building friendships to last a lifetime.
During this pandemic, Mercer's had to shift gears from a thriving and busy diner to navigate and accommodate takeout.
Working seven days a week, modifying hours for takeout only, they went from 25 employees to 14, and sales dropped 80 percent. "The joke going around is like hey, we may have lost 80, but we still have 20! And so, it's better than we thought," Jacob laughed.
Mercer's is normally providing the comfort in food, but the community is bringing the comfort back to the restaurant in a big way! "We had multiple people drop off over $1,000. And they're just like, hey, this is for your staff. I had an awesome lady drop of $5,000. And another do $1,500. Just like crazy amounts of support from our community," Jacob said with warmth and gratitude.
All of this motivated creativity. Jacob has been offering Thanksgiving meals on certain days. "Come get Thanksgiving. Eat around your dinner table. Talk to your kids, talk to your wife, your loved ones and just say, what are you thankful for? Kind of bringing back that Thanksgiving spirit," Jacob explained.
His wife and one of his daughters also sew masks to give to customers. "Most of our customer base is high risk. And so it's like, hey, we want to help out where we can," said Jacob.
Plus, they offer meals on wheels, where a couple delivers free meals once a week to those who need them.
Mercer's Restaurant also created a Facebook page during this Coronavirus pandemic, to help spread the word about what they have to offer!
Jacob is now planning what it will be like to have customers dine in again, gaining advice from and bouncing ideas off of others in the industry. Jacob said, "Well, I'm spent that's for sure. The last few weeks have been like a roller coaster ride... I'm excited to keep on going, to keep on creating, keep on innovating, you know. get back to business!"
Jacob shared that he is ecstatic to see his regular customers again and to catch up, as they all feel like his family. In general, Jacob has a special message for everyone who has ordered takeout from all over the Valley to keep this restaurant open. "Thank you for all of your support... Local communities supporting a local spot. That's what it's about."
IF YOU GO:
9720 W. Peoria Ave., Peoria, AZ 85345
Click here to see Mercer's Restaurant's website.
We always love hearing from you. If you know of a locally-owned restaurant, and you want to share their story, email us!