Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 5, 2014

Serving generations of customers

Local restaurant owner serving patrons for more than 50 years

By ANNE ELGIN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Chances are Gerry Farmer has served creamy milkshakes and a loaded hotdog to three generations of families in the two Virginias.

For more than 50 years, Farmer has owned and operated Bluefield’s Farmers Restaurant, dishing out culinary treats to residents of the two Virginias.

 “I am serving customers’ children and grandchildren,” Farmer, owner of Farmers Restaurant, said.

Farmer and her husband William Farmer Jr. bought the Tastee Freeze on Bluefield Avenue in 1956 and changed the name to Farmers Restaurant about five years ago, she said.

Although things have changed throughout the years all around the restaurant, the Farmers still continue to welcome old and new customers alike. Farmer and her husband converted the walk-up Tastee Freeze into a small sit-down restaurant. Customers mingle in and out, playing their favorite songs on the jukebox while enjoying a milkshake and hotdog fixed with their favorite toppings. Farmer knows many of them by name as they come in; she waves and greets everyone with a smile.

Farmer was born in Bluefield and graduated from Graham High School in 1956. Farmer attended McLain Business College in Bluefield and also worked at the restaurant on the side.

Farmer said one of her favorite things about working in the restaurant is getting to pick out new items to go on the menu and seeing customers as they come in to eat.

“Even though we add new items to the menu, I still love the hotdogs, BBQ sandwiches and the brown beans and cornbread. I don’t want the menu to get too large, I just like to keep what people like,” Farmer said.

“I have had some of the same customers for over 20 years. I have watched generations grow up,” Farmer said. “So many things have changed over the years in the way the business operates. Prices go up constantly and people’s work ethic has changed over the years. It’s just not the same anymore.”

Farmer, who resides in North Tazewell, Va., loves living the farm life.

“I love watching the foals and calves grow up,” Farmer said. “We also showed horses and had some road ponies.”

Even though things have slowed down on the farm, Farmer continues to work at the restaurant pretty much everyday, she said.

“As long as I can do it and my health holds up, I am going to keep doing it. I couldn’t imagine sitting at home and not doing anything,” Farmer said.

Farmer has three children Teresa Brown, William Farmer III and Benny Farmer.

She also has eight grandchildren; some help her at the restaurant when needed. Her sons also still continue to run Farmer Auto Sales that her husband owned.

Farmer was a member of Epsilon Sorority where she participated in different volunteer work around the community. Farmer is also an active member at Midway Christian Church.

Farmer generously volunteered her time at Carrington Nursing Home in Wytheville, Va., to make sure patients got what they needed, daughter Teresa Brown said.

“She has always loved that Tastee Freeze. Even though she is older now, I guess that place really keeps her going and reminds her of my dad. She likes having things done her way, I can remember when we were kids working in there, she would make us do something over and over again until it was done correctly,” Brown said.

Family friend Sarah Etter said she is just one of those modest, kind-hearted people.

“She has had the same customers forever and she doesn’t do any of it for the money. Gerry does it because she loves doing. She loves helping and caring for others, she puts everyone else before herself,” Etter said.

 — Contact Anne Elgin at aelgin@bdtonline.com