New menu, new owner for a familiar ‘Place’

By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • A “Place” for hungry diners in Raeford has a new owner and is reopening with a brand-new menu and extended hours of operation.

Frank’s Place, founded in 2019 by former Hoke County Coroner Frank Crumpler, is now Jess’s Place – named after Jessica Vanallen, who is launching her first venture as a restaurant owner.

Vanallen grew up in Hoke County and today still lives here with her husband and daughter. She managed Sub Station II in Raeford for about 15 years, gaining hands-on experience in the restaurant industry.

When the opportunity became available for her to take over Frank’s Place, Vanallen knew the time was right.

“I love working with food, I like to cook. It’s always been my dream to have my own restaurant,” she said.

Vanallen was hard at work last week getting everything ready to open. She planned to have the restaurant’s first day sometime this week, depending on how things go with the final preparations.

A number of changes are coming, besides the new name. Under the new ownership, the restaurant’s hours are going to expand. The plan is to have Jess’s Place open from 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m., making it available as a place to get dinner as well as lunch.

There will be new service options for diners, too. Vanallen wanted to make things easier for senior citizens who want to get takeout, so people will soon be able to drive up and have a carhop bring their order to them. The indoor dining will also have a server to bring food to the tables.

The Jess’s Place menu will have a few returning items, like hamburgers and hot dogs, though those will have new recipes. Much of the menu is entirely new, developed from Vanallen’s years of experience in feeding hungry customers.

Salads, subs, sandwiches, appetizers, specialty plates and a kids’ menu all feature in the revamped selections. Some of the items on the menu are things that you won’t find at other local restaurants.

The salads are her own favorite item, Vanallen said. The salad selection includes a garden salad, Chef salad, salad with grilled chicken, BLT salad and Greek salad. Homemade chicken salad, Italian pasta salad and ranch pasta salad also feature on the menu.

The appetizers have something for everyone from favorites like chicken wings, chili cheese fries and jalapeno poppers, to steak and cheddar fries, a fried steak and cheese wrap, street tacos with chicken or steak and a stuffed baked potato.

The eight-inch sub sandwiches on offer are classics like ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, a club sub, or the Jessy’s steak and cheese that comes with onions, peppers and mushrooms. Other subs on the menu are a Greek gyro with feta cheese and olives and a hamburger sub.

Besides single and double hamburgers or cheeseburgers made with fresh meat, Jess’s Place will also offer a jalapeno cheddar burger, a zesty ranch burger and a burger sautéed with onions, peppers and mushrooms. Diners get to pick toppings for burgers from a list that has lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, chili, and slaw, plus condiments.

Other options include sandwiches like a BLT, barbecue sandwich, grilled cheese, or homemade chicken salad, all served on white bread. Specialty plates include a supreme nachos plate, a barbecue plate, a gyro platter, spaghetti dinner and more.

Her food’s going to be “awesome” and show off her love of cooking, Vanallen said. She plans to run the restaurant with her family, but may hire more staff if business takes off.

“I hope to succeed, to make people happy and enjoy my food and I just want the business to grow,” she said.

Jess’s Place is located in the former Frank’s Place, at 1313 Highway 401 Business, next to Family Dollar. The phone number is (910) 875-1111.

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