HUNTINGTON - Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House is a true Huntington tradition and is considered one of the city's most iconic restaurants.

On Wednesday, Jim's was named the 2019 America's Classics winner in the Southeast region by the James Beard Foundation.

"This is a really big deal," said Jimmie Tweel Carder, the restaurant's managing owner. "We are thrilled to know that we were selected for this prestigious award."

The James Beard Foundation is a New York City-based national nonprofit culinary arts organization named in honor of James Beard, a food writer, teacher and cookbook author who was also known as the "Dean of American Cookery."

Each year since 1998, the James Beard Foundation Awards Committee has recognized the nation's beloved regional restaurants. In the history of the awards program, nobody has ever taken a James Beard medal home to West Virginia.

"It's such an honor and very humbling to be the first restaurant in the state to receive this award," Carder said. "We have always prided ourselves in offering friendly and fast customer service. We truly appreciate all of our staff and customers that come here. Without them, this would not have been possible."

Hanna Raskin, the foundation's restaurant and chef committee member charged with representing the Southeast, wrote a story on the foundation's website that announced the award.

"What sets Jim's apart is not just its commitment to perpetuating West Virginia's most cherished culinary tradition or its importance to the community, although both of those things matter - as does its strawberry pie, served exclusively around Mother's Day, another West Virginia invention. What makes Jim's a true America's Classics winner is it couldn't be confused with anywhere else in the world, nor could it be recreated," Raskin wrote.

Carder says a film crew is coming to Jim's on Thursday, Feb. 21, to film a video to be shown at the foundation's awards ceremony in Chicago on May 6.

"My brothers, Larry and Ron, who are also owners of the restaurant, will travel with me to Chicago, and we are really looking forward to it," she said.

Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House was started in 1938 by Jim Tweel as Jim's Dairy Bar, selling ice cream cones for a nickel. In 1944 Tweel expanded his business by adding a Spaghetti House next door. The two businesses merged in 1948 and were renamed Jim's Grill and Spaghetti House. In 1962 the restaurant was remodeled and formally changed its name to Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House.

"I never though Jim's would get into the national spotlight, and I know my dad and mom would be tickled that what they started more than 80 years ago is getting this type of attention," Carder said.

To read Raskin's full story, go online to www.jamesbeard.org/blog/the-power-of-strawberry-pie-and-a-smile.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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