Melissa Shepard, associate editor
TODD SYDOW, of Owosso, is standing outside of Jumbo’s Burger Bar. Todd and his wife, Shelly, purchased the restaurant on July 6. (Independent Photo/Melissa Shepard)
Longtime staple in Owosso, Jumbo’s Burger Bar, has new owners. Todd and Shelly Sydow, of Owosso, purchased the business on July 6 from the previous owners, the Merkel family. Joe Merkel and family purchased the business in 1994 and ran it for 22 years. In 2012, after retiring from General Motors, his daughter Sharol Haskins, took over as general manager. (Joe Merkel passed away in Dec. of 2015). “Sharol was wonderful helping me. She allowed me to come in for a month before the purchase and shadow her and learn the daily routine and the recipes,” stated Todd.
Todd is a native of Ionia, graduating from Ionia High School in 1980, and moved to Owosso in April of 2001 to work for the Young family. They brought him in to be the business manager when they purchased Harrelson Chevrolet. “I had 15 plus great years at Young Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC. It was a great opportunity. It was a difficult decision to make to leave. The Youngs are a great family and it’s a great place to work. But, I’m looking forward to this new endeavor,” said Todd.
Shelly is an Owosso native, graduating from Owosso High School and now works full-time at McLaren Flint as a R.N. The Sydow’s have twin eight-year-old sons, Harrison and Jackson, who will be third graders this coming fall at Emerson Elementary. Although she has a full-time job, Shelly helps out as much as she can.
The new owners want to assure everyone that Jumbo’s will not change too much. All 28 staff members stayed on during the purchase and Nicole Reyna, a long-time employee was promoted to manager. The Sydow’s plan to keep the traditions the same – St. Patrick Day parties, corn beef and cabbage dinners, and the high-quality ingredients used in all the homemade dishes.
One tradition is being revived – live music. “Last weekend we had a band on Saturday night and we had a good response, so we are going to keep going with it,” said Todd. This Saturday, July 23, will feature Midnight Train, with no cover charge.
“Jumbo’s has always been a people place in Owosso. It has also always been about community. We plan to continue on with the tradition, supporting the community and the local schools,” said Todd. He also plans to hang up some memorabilia from Owosso and Corunna schools on one of the walls.
A Grand Opening is being planned for shortly after Labor Day and in the works are plans to have Jumbo’s Margaritaville on the open patio, in the Spring of 2017. The new outside bar will feature Caribbean themed décor and frozen drinks.