jump to navigation

Ian Willms February 13, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Canada.

Jimmy’s Lunch Diner, Kitchener, Ontario 2010

Ian Willms (b. 1985, Canada) is a founding member of the Boreal Collective and part of the Reportage by Getty Images Emerging Talent roster. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, Village Voice, Foto8, Applied Arts Magazine, PDN, Maclean’s and The Walrus. Ian has also worked with the NGOs Greenpeace and Oxfam. In recent years, Ian’s documentary photography has been supported and honored by the Magnum Expression Photography Award, the Magenta Foundation, the Burn Emerging Photographer Fund and the National Magazine Awards and shown in exhibitions at Pikto Gallery, Bau-Xi Photo, O’Born Contemporary and Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography.

About the Photograph:

“Jimmy’s Lunch is a diner that was established in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in 1948 by Jimmy George. In 1955, Jimmy died of a brain tumor and his son Jerry took the business over. Jerry has been there everyday since then. For a long time, Jimmy’s was the only 24-hour diner in the city, so they regularly saw a fairly diverse array of clientele. It wasn’t uncommon to see judges sitting at the same bar as homeless people. Rumor has it that even Chuck Berry ate there once. Today, the only patrons consist of the regulars who have been coming there since they were kids. Like the diner, none of them are getting any younger. Every year there are a few more empty bar stools as people pass on.

“I wanted to document Jimmy’s Lunch because I see it as a place that represents the blue-collar culture that used to make Kitchener what it was. Everything today is so sterile and devoid of character. I like the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality that Jerry takes with his diner. It’s a simple place, where nothing has really changed over the years. Even the food is still made the same as it always has been. It feels a lot like a time warp, but not in a cheesy, contrived nostalgia way. Jimmy’s embodies decades past in a very raw and unvarnished way. Ironically, it’s even difficult to get cell phone reception when you’re there. The photo is of Jerry at the grill and one of his long-time regulars sitting at the bar. The man on the left passed away a few months after this photo was taken.