Jimmy Rogers feeds, and feeds off of, his love for the Mentone community

By Karim Shamsi-Basha

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Jimmy Rogers knows how to get people to remember him.

He feeds them.

When you’re asking about people in Mentone who help the community, Rogers and his Green Leaf Grill are frequently mentioned. Upon meeting him, it became clear his food and enthusiasm for life set him apart.

“What we do here is take care of our firemen and policemen, wherever you’re from,” Rogers said. “We give them a 20 percent discount. Veterans eat free on Veterans Day, and so do the widows of the veterans. They also get a 20 percent discount every day. We also provide a free lunch to the seniors at the MERF (Mentone Educational Resources Foundation) home once a month.”

Rogers opens his restaurant for a potluck dinner every Christmas. Green Leaf Grill is nestled in the middle of an artist colony in the picturesque mountain town.

“A lot of people like me don’t have much family left on the holidays, you know the way it used to be when you were younger,” he said. “I decided to open the restaurant for a potluck where everyone could bring one dish. Not only was it easier on everyone, but I also got to taste some amazing food.

“But you know what the real reason was? Everyone sat together and felt like family. And you don’t even have to bring a dish, just come and be a part of the family.”

That feeling of family and community is what Rogers seeks with his service, discounts and potluck dinners. He hasn’t forgotten his youth, when food was an integral part of his life.

“I grew up in a family where all we did was cook,” he said. “We eat and we cook; that was the entire essence of the family. I loved eating out at the local spots when I traveled and I really fell in love with food. Now I get to help my community with food. I wanted to bring back to Mentone what I had learned about food: fresh, simple.”

Many restaurant owners don’t have the budget to offer discounts like Rogers. But he keeps helping police and firefighters, assisting veterans and their widows, and giving away would-be profits.

“I like to see the smile on people’s faces,” he said. “It makes me happy to see people come in and have that experience, to enjoy a meal, made fresh and as local as I can get it. Just the satisfaction I get from seeing their smile. That’s why I do it.”

Jimmy Rogers feeds Mentone good, down-home, Southern food. He does it with a helping hand and heart.

For more, visit www.mymentone.com/Greenleaf.html.

Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at karimshamsibasha@gmail.com.

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