Circle N staying in the family
Circle N (formerly J&J Circle Inn) of Manila is under new ownership but is still part of the same family. Jim and Sue Fields opened Circle Inn on Highway 18 by-pass in 1980.
Through the last three decades Jim and Sue have been serving the community. Both their children, Kelley Fields and Michelle Veach, worked in the restaurant as did their granddaughters, Shelby Veach and Whitney Gist (daughters of Tommy and Michelle Veach).
Jim and Sue recently decided it was time for them to retire. A new partnership was formed when sisters Whitney and Shelby decided they would follow in their grandparents' footsteps and became the new owners of Circle N.
They changed the name slightly but are keeping the basic menu as is. They plan to add a few new items after the first of the year. The hours will remain the same, 9 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Whitney and Shelby agree they are happy to have their grandparents looking out for them and offering valuable tips as they take over the day to day operation.
Before becoming a business owner, Whitney, was working at Heritage Bank in Manila and Shelby has been working at Circle Inn.
"I always loved Circle Inn and I just couldn't imagine driving by here and not having it in the family," Whitney said. "I wanted it because it is so much a part of my Grandparents."
Shelby started to work there after high school in 2009 and she too, is pleased to be carrying on the family tradition.
"We want to keep the values put in place by our grandparents," Whitney said. "They put their customers first and offered good food with friendly service. Most of our customers have watched us grow up. I will never forget sitting in a Circle Inn booth and learning how to blow bubbles. I got the bubblegum out of the machine here and Debbie Hall, who worked here for many years, taught me how to blow bubbles."
Whitney is married to Aaron Gist and they have one son, Jax, 3.
Jim and Sue were partners in the Sonic in Osceola when they decided to expand and open Circle Inn.
They did not purchase the business from Sue's mother, Georgia Grable, but at one time she had owned the drive-in. Mrs. Grable's sister Bessie Harris was the original owner in the 1960s. When Mrs. Grable and Mrs. Harris were owners it was a small building and did not have dining inside. When Jim and Sue lived in West Memphis, they would come home on weekends and help at Circle Inn giving her mother a break.
The Fields purchased Circle Inn from then owner Franklin Hamilton. Circle Inn does have a long family history.
Sue said their customers and employees have been like their extended family. When longtime employee Debbie Hall was working at Circle Inn, she would bake birthday cakes and once a month they would have birthday celebrations for their regular customers.
Whitney and Shelby's mother, Michelle still helps them occasionally. Their employees include sisters, Amy Parker and Diana Shepard and her daughter, Whitney Shepard, and Teresa Leone.
Jim still enjoys visiting Circle N and having a cup of coffee or a glass of tea. It is like his second home.
"I am glad it is going to be kept in the family," Jim said. "I am happy they wanted to do it. They know about the business and they will do fine. Sue and I appreciate our customers who kept us in business for all these years. We have made some really good friends here."
Jim hopes his granddaughters enjoy Circle Inn as much as he has through the years.
Whitney and Shelby are ready to roll up their sleeves and continue serving friends and family at Circle N.
Even Jax wants to help and enjoys greeting the customers.
"I am thrilled the girls want to carry on the business," Sue said. "I also want to thank all of our customers and friends."