Lil’ Jon

“People come in all the time wanting to buy [the restaurant’s custom dinnerware]. They’ll send a set with a child heading off to college, or give some to a relative who’s moved away, or just use it at home. It reminds them of a happy place in their lives, and I love being part of that legacy.”

- Parker Sjolander, owner of Lil’ Jon

Lil’ Jon Restaurant in Bellevue, Wash., just over Lake Washington from Seattle, is a local institution. Serving up massive portions of comfort food and their famous cinnamon rolls “as big as your head” has been a family tradition since 1967. That’s when Jon Sjolander first opened the place. 

Three generations later, Jon’s great-nephew, Parker Sjolander, is the man in charge. He’s just 27 years old, but the family business is in his blood. “We want people to feel at home here,” said Parker. “I think the dinnerware we’ve chosen from Homer Laughlin helps us create that warm atmosphere.”

The diner has had custom plates for as long as anyone can remember, but the occasion of the establishment’s half-century mark called for something extra-special.

“Fifty years is a long time, and we knew we wanted to mark the occasion,” said Parker. “Over the years, our plates have become part of the legend of the restaurant, so we knew we couldn’t radically alter the design.” 

Adding a perfectly proportioned number 50 behind a rendering of the diner’s iconic signpost, which can be seen for miles around, did the trick. “It’s one of the tallest structures in town. So tall that it’s grandfathered in. If it ever falls down, we won’t be able to replace it with one the same height.”  

Lil’ Jon is a family place to its core. It starts with the family that runs it and the workers who have been there for decades, and continues with the customers, including a few that come in twice a day.

“The key to our success is consistency,” said Parker. “Customers have known what to expect when they walk in the door since my Uncle Jon first opened for business. In a world where change is constant, we’re something that stays familiar.”

December 2017


Past Enewsletters

By Topics