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Meet Me at Jack's

Everyone has a story for how they met their best friend, whether at school, work or church. For Doris Ragan, 79, and Carolyn Morgan, 67, that place is Jack’s restaurant where the two met five years ago.

Although many may not find their best friend at a fast food restaurant, that is exactly what Morgan, a hostess at Jack’s for the past 12 years, and Ragan did.

Jack’s, on Highway 68 in Collinsville, Alabama, is a local hotspot for people in the community to gather. They are busy at breakfast, lunch and dinner without fail. Ragan said, “Every time after we eat breakfast Carol has to go get ready for the lunch rush. They’re always busy.”

Jack’s is conveniently located beside Interstate 59 so people travelling through the area can stop for a quick bite to eat. But for local people in Collinsville, it is more than just a restaurant. 

After the Collinsville Elementary School had their kindergarten graduation in May, many families headed to Jack’s for a celebratory lunch with their children. 

Tables and chairs were pushed together to make room for the large parties that came, and the children ran around playing with each other while everyone socialized and celebrated their graduation. 

After more than a decade of working at Jack’s, Morgan said the people she has gotten to know through her job have become like family to her.

Morgan said, “Over the years I’ve gotten to know a lot of people who come in here. I love when my regulars come.  Some of them were kids when I met them and now they have babies of their own that they bring in!”

Morgan was born and raised in Collinsville. She has a passion for her community and expresses it through the connections she makes and keeps through working at Jack’s. Morgan said, “Some of the little ones even call me Mimi, which is what my grandkids call me. They’re like adopted grandbabies.”

But her friendship with Regan is special. Ragan lives in Leesburg, Alabama, and drives 20 minutes to get to Jack’s at least once and sometimes three times a week to socialize with Morgan.

It all started when Ragan stopped by Jack’s on her way through town five years ago, not long after her husband passed away. That was the day she met Morgan. Ragan said, “Carol is a good friend. We’ve both been through a lot over the few years we’ve known each other.”

Ragan finds out Morgan’s schedule each week and plans her visits around that. She gets there at 9 a.m., orders three pancakes with no butter with water to drink. She perfects her routine by bringing her own sugar-free syrup.

Once she has her food, she sits in the lobby and waits for Morgan to go on her break so they can eat together and catch up. Ragan said, “I usually come by myself. Even if they’re busy and Carol doesn’t get a break right then, I get to talk to her while she cleans off tables and walks around greeting people since she’s the hostess. I usually just sit here and talk to people for a while. Sometimes I talk for so long it’s time for lunch by the time I leave!”

The regular meetings over the years have made the women the best of friends. Ragan brings Morgan a silly birthday card every year and periodically brings her flowers from her garden as well as other gifts. Ragan said, “There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for that woman. She means a lot to me. You know, I wouldn’t give just anyone a card that had a muscled up shirtless man on it, but that’s the kind of friend Carol is. We can laugh together.”

Both women say they are happy that Jack’s served up a fast and lasting friendship.