Clinton residents now have a new place to eat that’s not fast food.
Nate and Ashley Ferguson have remodeled and reopened the old Jerry’s Market at 637 Sulphur Springs Road, adding a commercial kitchen and installing a gourmet chef there – Nate’s dad, Vern Ferguson – to do most of the cooking.
Now called Jerry’s Market & Deli, the store combines a daily hot lunch special with a menu of deli-style sandwiches, fresh-made to order, for lunch customers from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the sandwich-only cold-cuts menu available until closing time at 7 p.m. The store is open daily except Sunday beginning at 7:30 a.m.
“We bought the store in August and opened Jerry’s Market & Deli in December,” Nate Ferguson said. “The idea was to offer quality food at affordable prices – while expanding local taste buds beyond the fast-food fare.”
Last Friday and Saturday, Vern Ferguson cooked up his version of chicken and dumplings as the daily special, and made more for a Friday evening “Community Dinner” that the Fergusons hope will become at least a monthly tradition.
“We’re starting slowly, but building it up as we go,” Nate said.
The deli features homemade breads from the Mennonite community at Muddy Pond, and meats, cheeses and baked goods from Amish communities in Ohio, he said.
As for the kitchen help, Vern Ferguson recently retired as chef at the Gaylord Texan resort in Dallas, and decided to move to Clinton to help his son in the new venture. He lives in an apartment over the store. The Gaylord Texan is similar to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the same owners.
“I am enjoying it so far,” Vern Ferguson said. Customers enjoyed his chicken and dumplings recipe, which is a bit different from what most people are used to in this area.
“That was fantastic,” customer Rachel Riley of Oliver Springs said of the tastily seasoned chicken and dumplings, served with also well-seasoned green beans, after she had lunch at Jerry’s on Friday. She was there with her mother, Betty Womack, and Rachel’s two children, Christopher, 7, and Carver, 4.
“This was our first time here since the store reopened with the deli, and it’s great food and very nice owners,” Riley said.
“It’s got that old-time feel,” Womack said. “It needs a few more tables, though. It got really busy at lunch and there were people waiting for tables.”
Both remember the store when the previous owner, Chester Cox, ran it as Jerry’s Market.
So does Nate Ferguson, who moved to Clinton in 1996 from Laguna Beach, California, after completing his sophomore year in high school, and began attending the nearby Clinton High School.
“This is where all the kids would go after school,” he said.
Last year he talked the former owner into selling him the building, and he and his wife began the renovations, most of which they did themselves.
Vern Ferguson runs the store most of the time on weekdays while Nate and Ashley Ferguson are working their “day jobs,” Nate said.
He services medical equipment, and Ashley works as a dental assistant in Oliver Springs.
Although he grew up in Tucson, Arizona, Nate’s maternal grandparents, Walter and Doris Bullock, lived in Clinton, and he spent many summers here.
While he was visiting during summer 1996, Nate called his parents and told them he was staying in Clinton.
Shortly after that, Nate met Ashley Blakney at church, and the two got married in 2001. They have two children – son Mason, 15, who helps in the store, and daughter Maddie, 11.
Mason also helps in a side business at the store – the sale of gravel and mulch for landscaping, which the Fergusons also took over from Cox, the previous owner.
Some of the best-selling items on the menu are the hot ham and cheese and fried bologna sandwiches. Daily specials have included hot meatball subs and reubens, Vern Ferguson said.
Von Evans, 82, has already become a regular customer of Jerry’s. He said he’s lived in the area for 60 years, and likes the changes the Fergusons have made to the old country store.
“They’ve got a nice place here,” he said. “They really worked hard to fix it up.
“I’ve already been here several times, and I usually get the fried bologna sandwich,” he added. “At lunchtime, people come from all over. Sometimes it’s so busy it’s hard to find a parking place.”
Jerry’s Market and Deli doesn’t have a website yet, but it does have a Facebook page, Nate Ferguson said.
And for those who want to stay connected while they’re dining, there’s free Wi-Fi in the building.