I met Jerry Smith and his wife Angela for the first time at Starbucks about two years ago, and I have been running into them there ever since! When you have busy lives like theirs, a good dose of caffeine is needed more than once a day.
The Smiths, both from the K-W area, settled in Laurelwood December of 2004 and have been happy Laurelwood residents ever since. Jerry says there’s no other place he’d rather be, except maybe Siesta Key, his favourite getaway spot in Florida. I thought, “Yeah, this isn’t a bad place to be when it’s in the high 20’s and the sun is shining.” But, as I recall, Jerry and Angela, do enjoy their winter sports, too. So even when the snow is flying, they are right at home here no matter the season. With them both being business owners (Jerry a restaurateur and Angela a photographer), they have some flexibility in their lives and have been known to get away for a mid-week ski date while their three adorable children are attending school at St. Nick’s.
Jerry and Ang, as many of her friends call her, work hard, play hard and from what I can see, they seem to have their priorities straight. They do all of the important things that keep them connected as a family, they do all of the silly things that keep them young (like turning the heat up in their pool so they can swim a good month or two before anyone else would consider swimming outdoors in Ontario), they do all of the business things that keep them successful and they stay connected with friends and with their community. In short, these folks truly enjoy their work and their lives.
From an onlooker, it appears that Jerry and Ang both have been blessed with great temperaments. They seem to have a laid back attitude that never seems to get thrown too much by the stresses of life. And it’s not that they don’t have any stress, they just seem to know how to handle and balance it. The true test of what someone is made of comes when someone is faced with difficulty, or in their case, a complete loss.
In 1995, Jerry built the ever-popular Mel’s Diner, and ran that business from the summer of 1995 until April of 2010, when it was closed down by a fire. It has since been determined that arson was the cause, and someone has been convicted of this awful crime. That fire that spread throughout the University Plaza closed down six units indefinitely, Mel’s Diner included, and two additional units for two months while repairs were made. This very selfish act affected over 100 people in total. But life did go on.
Jerry says Mel’s never felt far away, as a lot of the old signs were recovered from the fire and have been hanging up in his garage until the day that Mel’s Diner reopens its doors for business. It has been over a year now since the fire, and Mel’s Diner is finally in the process of being re-built. While Jerry was processing all a person goes through when something devastating like this happens, he was approached by the owner of Ethel’s Lounge who had a new restaurant venture that required Jerry’s skill and experience. So as the Operating Owner and Manager, Jerry looks forward to this next chapter of his life:
photo by Angela Smith
Conveniently located at the corner of King and University, just steps from Wilfred Laurier, and a short walk to Mel’s Diner, Frat Burger opened mid-July. The menu is short, in order to maintain top quality, and the atmosphere is perfect for those wishing to stay and watch one of the games being viewed on six different screens. There is also a large take-out client base expected, so ample space has been planned for patrons picking up their orders. Frat Burger will offer burgers, home-made fresh cut fries, milk shakes and, of course, beer. The beef will be local, ground in-house and cooked up to order with their special recipe.
Really, everyone goes through a hard time at some point in their life. Life has thrown me a few curve balls, too. The last thing I ever wanted was people feeling sorry for me. After chatting with Jerry again recently, I know he feels the same. He does not deny that the fire really was a misfortune, but he never saw it as something that could not be overcome. There are just some things that are completely out of our control, but the one thing we are in charge of is our attitude. Not sure about you, but I like to surround myself with people who know how to smile and not just “get by” in life but know how to move ahead in a positive way, regardless of their circumstances. And that is the kind of neighbours the Smiths are.
I think Frat Burger is the next place I'll take my husband for a date...
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