CALUMET - Jim and Lana Hughes have been working alongside each other in the restaurant business for as many years as they've been married.
Jim, who at the age of 12 started out as a dishwasher at Murphy's Restaurant in their hometown of Milwaukee, Wis., was drafted in the U.S. Army in 1965. July 3 of that same year, Jim and Lana married.
"Her career in food service started in the military with me," he said. "We both took part-time jobs working for American Family Steakhouse in San Francisco, Calif."
Longtime Calumet restaurant Jim’s Pizza is up for sale by owners Jim and Lana Hughes. The Hughes owned the business since 1978.
After the military, the Hughes returned to Milwaukee where they purchased Murphy's Restaurant. Five years later, they purchased the neighboring Pizza Cave Restaurant.
Together they operated the two restaurants, and meanwhile had three children, Joey, Shelly and Lee?Ann, before relocating to the Copper Country in 1977.
"The neighborhood was getting pretty rough - they had the '67 riots in Milwaukee," Jim said. "Times were getting tough so we decided to move up here."
The Hughes resided in Laurium while Jim started out in a partnership at the Michigan House. Settling into the neighborhood, they decided to open Calumet's first official pizza restaurant where it still stands today.
It was the start of a venture the couple would continue to grow with the opening of a Jim's Pizza in Lake Linden, Jim's Sundaes and Subs in Calumet, Jim's Pizza in Hancock, as well as concession stands at four Michigan state parks.
"We even had a concession wagon going at the time," Jim said. "In our spare time we managed 23 rental units between Calumet and Hancock."
Over the years, the Hughes sold several of the businesses, yet maintained their location in Calumet.
Jim's Pizza has long been recognized as a social hub for both the younger crowd and adults. In the early days, diners may recall the jukebox and video games that were placed in each location.
"It's been enjoyable working together," Lana said. "Back in Milwaukee when we had the restaurant, we made the decision that only one person can be the boss and that was his job."
Lana was more in charge of the front of the restaurant, Jim said, greeting and seating customers and sharing in conversation with them.
Take a Friend to the Theatre
In an effort to support the community and the Calumet Theatre, Jim and Lana are inviting music lovers to a show they will not forget.
"We're bringing up an act from Milwaukee that we saw at Summerfest called Four Guyz in Dinner Jackets," Jim said of the male vocal quartet that performs doo-wop music of the 1950s and 1960s. "The theatre will receive 100 percent of the ticket sales, and in conjunction with this, when you buy tickets, you'll get a pizza and pop for free."
Jim's Pizza, Calumet and the Calumet Theatre present "Take a Friend to the Theatre," Monday, June 25 with showtime at 7:30 p.m. General seating is $15.
"Wherever they play, they play for a sell-out crowd," Jim said. "That's what I'm hoping for here."
The evening is a fundraiser put on by Jim's Pizza, Calumet and package deals include: purchase two tickets at $15 and receive one medium topping and two large pops free (a total savings of $12.36). Purchase four tickets at $13.50 and receive one large topping and four large pops free (a total savings of $25.04). Purchase six tickets at $12.50 and receive two large topping and six large pops free (a total savings of $49.31).
Package deals are for dining in only at Jim's Pizza in Calumet and coupons expire July 31.
"I recommend you buy your tickets early and use your coupons for the pizza early, not on the day of the show," Jim said.
Lana said they've always been big supporters of the community whether it be high school athletics or community organizations.
"All that stuff that's involved in our community, we always did what we could to help out," she said. "This will be our last hurrah."
After owning Jim's Pizza in Calumet since 1978, the Hughes bid their kind farewell as they retire from the business.
Watching the business change and grow with the times has been a challenge the couple has overcome time and time again.
"That place has never taken a backseat to anybody," Jim said. "When we'd get new restaurants up there we changed our menu around to counteract that."
Of course a large part of the business's success stems from the longtime employees who have stood by the Hughes for decades. Among their longest serving staff members are: Steve Limback (35 years), Ralph Huffman (35 years), Cathy Mattila (32 years), Kathy Chopp (27 years), Tanya Kallio (18 years), Charles Mills (15 years) and Keith Marttila (15 years).
The Hughes shared in many proud moments, including Jim's Pizza's 25th anniversary when then Gov. Jennifer Granholm presented them with a certificate congratulating them on successfully opening and running a business for 25 years.
Not to mention the many acts that would drop by after a show at the Calumet Theatre, such as country music singer John Conlee, and country music duo the Kendalls, among many others.
"One fun time I had in the restaurant, I took all of my crazy, crazy advertising and I had so much of it I wallpapered all the walls with it," Jim said. "Everything I ever advertised - our promotions, all of our old menus from day one back in Milwaukee - I saved all of this stuff and put it up. I think I left it up for about five years."
When asked what he's going to miss the most about the business, Jim said it's the people.
"I want to say thank you to the many people who have been coming back all of these years," he said. "The trip has been fun."
Jim's Pizza is for sale by Statewide Real Estate. Contact Dick Walrath for more information at 482-6955.
Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by Jim's Pizza of Calumet. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.