Like many people who made it downtown I would always ride by Joe’s but didn’t go in. I think the building use to be a Denny’s* back in the day and it kept most of the old diner look and most other things other than the name. I remember I used to think what kind of a steak house would be in downtown, but I wanted to give it a shot, so on March 14th, 2014 was the first day I walked into Joe’s. I was attending the Tool concert and was hungry and they were the only place open. That was the first of many dinners I would end up having with the Anaya’s in their family restaurant. My waitress that night was Veronica and Liz; both of whom I became good friends with and spent many nights enjoying dinner and drinks outside of Joe’s.
I felt like family when I was there. Jackie and Maribel made us feel at home with every visit. They would make me dishes not on the menu once I changed my diet to a more vegetarian one. I remember meeting a lady named Ruth, who was also a regular that lived next door in the Hotel California, a place for senior citizens. Ruth would hang out there often because she didn’t have any family as most died in the holocaust, a story she shared with me one day as we had dinner. She was the only survivor of her family and was brought over by the military personal when they rescued her. She told me about her 3 husbands and children she had, whom she outlived which was why she lived in the hotel next to Joe’s. Every time I would go in I would buy her dinner and listen to her life stories. She even told me I was nice and handsome for a Mexican. I laughed, and she said “No, I’m serious. If I was younger, we’d be married.” I would talk with her until she couldn’t bare the memories. The people at Joe’s would allow her to sit in the restaurant as long as she wanted and converse with her when they could. It was one of the rare places that are becoming extinct.
On top of the Anaya family being great people, they also made delicious food. My favorites were the steak and salmon dinners and all their homemade cakes, pastries and pies. Joe’s became mine and wife’s favorite Friday night date night spots, and we are going to miss everything about it, especially the Anaya family. The downtown revitalization began with a few places choosing downtown for their businesses. One was Tioga Sequoia, the other was Joe’s Steakhouse. I was sad to see Zacks brewing leave downtown and although I know there’s other businesses open and more opening this year the closing of Joe’s hurts the area.
Covid was extremely rough for everyone but especially so for the restaurant and service industry. It’s up to us to do our part and support the local mom and pop places, but also understand the stresses they’re going through, so no matter what your feeling are about restrictions, if a place has a policy in place like wearing mask, just do it for them. I’m glad things are getting better, and I hope to see familiar faces while I’m out and about at Michelangelo’s Pizzeria, Spokeasy, Mochuelo or The Modernist, or any local spots… everyone raise a glass and cheers Joe’s Steakhouse; we will miss you as always.
If you see me out pull up a chair, open a tab and lets Tacobout it.
HK ON THE STREETS
*Editors Note: Joe’s Steakhouse was originally Sambo’s, which opened in the 1960’s. Joe’s opened in May of 2005.