** THIS RESTAURANT IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED **
Jonathan Byrd’s boasts that it is America’s biggest cafeteria. The serving line is eighty-eight feet long with a minimum of twenty entrees at any one time (serving continuously from 10:45 to 8:45 daily) as well as countless vegetable side dishes, Jell-Os, salads, desserts, breads and rolls. In need of comfort when we first stopped by, we dined on turkey pot pie and a bowl of chicken and noodles, the latter an especially salubrious bowl of thick, soft pasta and shreds of chicken in just enough broth to keep it all moist.
It happened to be a Wednesday, so the other entree choices for the day included wiener schnitzel, stuffed peppers, smoked sausage, fried cod, fried chicken, roast beef carved to order, turkey carved to order, meat loaf, and St. Peter’s fish. Each of the seven days a week has its own list of specials; and every day of the week, you can count on beef Manhattan, ham and beans, steak, shrimp, vegetarian vegetable soup, plus low-cal diet items from salad to no-sugar pies.
Among the memorable side dishes were macaroni and cheese with a good portion of crusty, chewy top-cheese mixed in with the creamy noodles from below, a buttermilk drop biscuit that was a textural joy and bread pudding laced with slices of cooked-soft apple and plenty of sweet caramel sauce.
The late Jonathan Byrd was a man on a mission from God. “I was impressed by how many significant biblical events involved people eating together,” he wrote for a story in Guideposts. As a matter of principle, he served no liquor in the cafeteria, not even in its banquet rooms, and even after his passing, the Jonathan Byrd function rooms regularly play host to gospel concerts.
We make monthly trips to Indy and make a point of stopping at JB’s for lunch each trip. I second the positive comments on the Fried Chicken, although if we happen to be there on “Liver and Onion Day’ I will choose that entree. The Carmel Bread Pudding makes a great warm dessert for a solid meal.
Always spotless clean, and with a friendly staff, Jonathon Byrd’s serves up a good example of Hoosier Hospitality in a traditional atmosphere. We will continue to visit it in the future.