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Ida Mae and Joe's closes
Owners hope to reopen Midway landmark
IdaMae joes
Ida Mae and Joe's has stood on Highway 17 in Midway for 70 years. - photo by Courier file photo
MIDWAY — It’s not clear what forced a popular eatery in Liberty County to close its doors, but one thing is for certain: Ida Mae and Joe’s Restaurant will be missed.
Lynette Pittman, 71, said she couldn’t believe her eyes when she drove past the eatery Wednesday morning and saw its doors were shut.
“They’ve been around since I was a little child,” she said. “I don’t know what happened, but all I know is that they had good food and good business.”
The former truck stop was built in 1938 by Ida Mae and Joe Smith, according to their daughter-in-law and the building’s current owner, Claudia Smith.
“It used to get a lot of business when I-95 first opened,” she said. “People from all over would visit the stop.”
But in 1990, after Ida Mae and Joe died, Smith said the influx of business seemed to taper off, and the truck stop transitioned into a local restaurant.
“None of us wanted to run a restaurant,” Smith said, “so we leased it out.”
For 10 years, the restaurant was leased and operated by Delores Vann.
“She was one of Ida Mae and Joe’s waitresses,” Smith said.
She said two years ago, when Vann became physically incapable of running the establishment by herself, the restaurant was leased again, this time to Derlin Griswold.
Griswold was not available for comment before press time, but Kelly Campbell, who owns Costal Family Salon near the former stop, said she feared it was financial hardships that caused Griswold to give up the lease.
“I think the guy couldn’t keep it afloat,” Campbell said. “And I really don’t much blame him because a lot of businesses are affected by the economy, but it is a shame that Ida Mae’s had to close.”
Earlier this week, Griswold went to Midway City Hall and requested the water at the business be shut off, according to Midway’s Mayor Don Emmons.
“I really don’t know what happened,” Emmons said. “He just requested that we discontinue service.”
Smith said she also was not sure why Griswold decided to terminate his lease, but hopes that her family’s business will survive today’s tough economic times.
“We really hope someone will be interested in leasing it from us,” she said.
Pittman hopes so too.
“I think it is the oldest truck stop in America,” she said.
Ida Mae and Joe’s truck stop has been featured in several publications, including the Moon Travel Guide and Kap Stann’s 2007 book, “Moon Georgia.” 

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