But 40 years later, Jimmy West and the crew at Jim’s Pizza Box in Milan still are going strong. Friends, family and customers gathered Tuesday for a special 40th anniversary celebration with pizza, cake and balloons.
“We started out, (I was) 21 years old, a little box down the street here,” West said Tuesday. “We had the opportunity to go into Eastman’s old grocery store. We put this place together without a dime of labor.
“My family and friends worked day and night to open this place.
“Here is is 40 years later and the family is still helping out. I have had a lot of free help. I come from a big family. … Everybody chips in.”
West and his family were put a real test a few years back when fire gutted the restaurant.
“I survived the fire,” West said. “They supported me. I was down for five months. I was worried about who would come back — they all came back.
“Family. When kids come back from college this is their first stop. When they move away and come back they come here.”
West has spent two-thirds of his life with the restaurant. There has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into it, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I walk out of her thinking ‘what a nice ride,’” he said.
“Understanding wife. Understanding children. They sacrificed a lot for me to be where I am today.
It’s good. It’s been a good life. I have met a lot of great people. The ti-county area has been very good to me.”
And he has been very good to them.