Job search turned into business ownership for Winchester native
Photo and story by Dennis Sharkey
Winchester native Travis Ray wasn’t looking to become a restaurant owner when his restaurant, Jae’s Place, opened last year but it has worked out.
When Ray opened the restaurant last October he wasn’t looking to become a business owner, he just wanted a job because he had been unemployed for more than a year and had to pay the bills.
But the spot in downtown Winchester was familiar to Ray because his mother, Ann, operated a restaurant from the same location for eight years when he was in high school and a regular employee.
The former owner wanted to sell and Ray needed a way to put food on the table at home. However, the restaurant was not making a lot of money and the doors were not swinging open as often as they had when his mother operated the restaurant.
Travis said it was a little scary jumping into the business, but he had confidence.
“Luckily my mom owned this back when I was in high school and did really good,” Ray said. “Customers knew it would be about the same way but maybe a little bit different.
“I knew if I could get in here and keep steady hours and days open I would be able to make it,” he added.
Ray not only rode on the coat tails of his mother Ann’s reputation but he also recruited her to cook. Since selling the restaurant, Ann had been cooking at a nursing home in Nortonville but Travis was able to lure her away.
Ann said she wasn’t excited about the idea of Travis purchasing the restaurant but after a year in operation her worries have eased.
“I tried to talk him out of it,” Ann said. “He’s been pretty fortunate. He’s done a real good job and I’m impressed with the way he’s handled this.”
Travis said it took a lot to get used to being a business owner as opposed to an employee.
“When I worked for my mom I didn’t have all the paperwork or was worried about Uncle Sam taking his cut,” Travis said. “It took me awhile to get used to it. I think it still feels new to me because I’m not worn out or ready to shoot myself.”
Ann said the move has benefitted her as well because she did miss interacting with people on a daily basis.
“When you’re a people person you miss the people,” she said.
Travis serves breakfast all day and has daily specials including fried chicken and catfish on Fridays and taco night on Tuesdays. Homemade pies are baked daily and Travis plans on starting a steak night on Saturdays soon.
Travis said he named the restaurant after his daughter but people who don’t know him come into the restaurant and call him Jae.
“You don’t know how many people call me Jae,” he said. “I just have to tell them no, that’s my daughter.”
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