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Breaking a Few Eggs
Owner Loc Le at the original Jimmy’s Egg location at Northwest Sixteenth and May in Oklahoma City
Photo by LORI DUCKWORTH
The road to creating an Oklahoma establishment was paved with hard work and cream-cheese frosting.
By Ashley Stewart
Published March/April 2017
Fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon, and the aroma of fresh-baked cinnamon raisin toast—it’s no wonder Jimmy’s Egg is an Oklahoma institution. With intimate booths and a bar full of regulars, every Jimmy’s Egg feels mom-and-pop. Despite the relaxing atmosphere and inexpensive, delicious cuisine, establishing this restaurant empire came neither cheap nor easy for owner Loc Le. Born in South Vietnam to an affluent family, Le was entrenched in business from a young age. During the Vietnam War, he ran many enterprises, one of which was a pork canning factory that supplied C-rations to the South Vietnamese military. But when Saigon fell in April 1975, Le knew that he and his family had to flee for their lives.
“The Viet Cong called me a war criminal,” he says.
Le and twenty-eight members of his family fled by yacht into international waters, where they were rescued by a Vietnamese commercial ship. Before leaving for the United States, the Le family burned their yacht to avoid being tracked by the Viet Cong. It would take thirty days to reach Guam for processing with the other 2,500 refugees aboard.
“We lost everything,” he says. “Although I knew French, Vietnamese, and some Latin, I spoke very little English at the time.”
From Guam, Le traveled to California, then Nebraska, and ended up in Oklahoma City working as an inspector for the Santa Fe Railroad.
“I was just trying to survive,” says Le. “I had never done work like that in Vietnam.”
Le never anticipated getting into the restaurant business. He continued learning English and started working part-time in real estate. Jimmy’s Egg came about by chance, when he saw the listing for a restaurant—then owned by its namesake, Jim Newman—for sale on Northwest Sixteenth Street and May Avenue in Oklahoma City.
“I bought it for my wife to make an income, ” he says.
Le plunged blindly into the business unaware of how difficult the work would be or how beloved his brand would become. Today, there are fifty-four Jimmy’s Eggs in America, many of which are franchises.
Each location offers a cornucopia of delicious food, from cinnamon roll pancakes drenched in cream cheese frosting to the Breakfast Burger: a juicy mountain of bacon, seasoned hash-browns, American cheese, and a fried egg on top of a generous beef patty.
“The restaurant is my life,” Le says. “You can’t do this seven days a week if you don’t love it.”
Above all, Le values consistency within his eateries. That’s why, when a new location launches, he sends a team of trainers to oversee its initial stages. Theresa Johnson has opened five diners as a corporate trainer and lead server.
“I absolutely love it,” she says. “I love teaching.”
In the front of the restaurant, Johnson instructs new servers in what she calls “silent service.”
“If you see an empty cup, you fill it,” Johnson says. “You see a table that needs syrup? You bring it over. It all feels like it magically came together.”
Johnson, who calls herself a “breakfast girl,” is as big a fan of the food as she is the service.
“Everyone should try the Jimmy’s Garbage Breakfast,” she says of the sizzling combination of crispy hash-browns, bell peppers, grilled onion, sausage crumbles, and two eggs cracked to order.
In addition to burritos, breakfast skillets, and dozens of other fresh menu choices, every Jimmy’s Egg serves the feeling of a family diner, a place where anyone can sit at the bar and chat with the other patrons and staff like they’ve been friends for years—as they may very well become.
“The passion for Jimmy’s Egg is contagious,” Johnson says.
The original Jimmy’s Egg is located at 1616 North May Avenue in Oklahoma City. jimmysegg.com.