The bidding began at 10 a.m., with Gene Motes Auctioneers in charge. The Jourban brothers and their families were present, along with several who have been patrons of the Village Inn since Ken Mount opened it in 1964.
Mount, now a resident at NHC Place in Anniston, is a native of Gadsden. He moved to Jacksonville to attend Jacksonville State University and received a business degree from there. Mount felt it was a good time to open a restaurant in the city. He found an empty building on Clinton Street just off the square, remodeled it, and named it the Village Inn.
He came up with the name because of the quaint, village-like feeling the square and surrounding area projected.
The Jourbran brothers, who are natives of Israel, purchased it from Mount in 1988.
Elias Jourban came to Jacksonville to attend JSU in 1975 and worked as a waiter for Mount at the Village Inn. After graduating from JSU in 1979, Jourban worked at Pizza Hut for the next 10 years. He was responsible for the first million dollar Pizza Hut in Alabama when he managed Pizza Hut in Roebuck.
Jourban said he had mixed emotions about selling the restaurant.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “I tell the community all the time about that. But after 25 years, I want to retire. I really need to rest. My health isn’t good, and my brother has had open heart surgery. We just wanted to give somebody an opportunity to do what we did. It needs new blood.”
Jourban said that it will always be a part of him.
“I’m having a real hard time dealing with it,“ he said. “It bothers me a lot. It’s like selling my heart out. I’m going to miss my employees. I’m just going to have to learn to adjust.”
He said he’s planning on spending time at his home and his four acres. He’s grateful, he said, to be able to have more time to spend with his family.
A group that calls itself the Round Table has met at the Village Inn since it shortly after it opened. Most of the members are long-time friends.
“We’ve been eating there since Ken Mount had it,” said member Jetta Manners. “When it started out, people would come and go, and we’ve added to it. It’s a lot of fun to meet for lunch and talk and argue about politics and whatever. It’s the only restaurant in town that serves vegetables. I hope they’ll continue with it.”
Manners said some of the members meet every day.
“It’s dwindled down a lot,” she said. “We like to tell tales about Jacksonville and remember those we knew long ago. We’ve really had some characters in town.”
Manners’s husband Lee is one member of the Round Table. Some of the others are Darwin Hardison, Dorothy Jane Nisbet, Seymour West, and Lou Kennamer.
Carol Walker remembers the Village Inn in its early years.
“It was always a wonderful place to go eat,” she said. “They had such good food and he (Mount) was the perfect person to have a restaurant, with his personality.”
Walker said she visits Mount at least once a week at NHC Place.
Contact Margaret at firstname.lastname@example.org.