Jiggy Ray’s feeds community in more ways than expected

Published 4:54 pm Monday, July 2, 2018

It isn’t about being just another restaurant for the owners of Jiggy Ray’s Pizzeria.

Serving the public different foods and drinks could easily serve the purpose of the downtown eatery, but it comes back to doing much more for co-owners John Malone and John Seehorn.

Jiggy Ray’s, located on East Elk Avenue, has proven to be more than just a restaurant since opening to the public.

A regular winner of the Elizabethton Star’s Readers Choice Awards for best pizza, Jiggy Ray’s staff using Antimo Caputo flour, making their pies from scratch daily and combine quality ingredients to provide some delectable dishes to the public. Jiggy Ray’s offers a variety of speciality pizzas, ranging from the Hillbilly Pit Pie, Itappalachian Meant Mountian, Huhu Hawaiian, the Dalai Lama, Jiggyrita, Bacon Cheeseburger and Double Deuce Pizza.

While their various dishes incorporate “Itappalachian” flair, regarded as “where Italy meets Appalachia,” Jiggy Ray’s also offers a fully stocked salad bar and different appetizers, including the often popular Bull Bites – BBQ placed on pieces of toast served alongside coleslaw.

While the restaurant gears itself to offer multiple homemade dishes, both Malone and Seehorn talked about having various local brews on tap any patron looking to sit back and relax. JRH Brewing, based out of Johnson City, is one of the local brews on tap. For those not looking for a craft, other popular mainstream items are also available. 

While offering award-winning pizza and other items from their business, community outreach is a primary goal for Malone, Seehorn and the rest of the restaurant’s staff.

Malone and Seehorn are active members of the Elizabethton IDEAS Group — a grassroots effort of local residents and region volunteers that look into performing various community-based projects to give back to Elizabethton and Carter County.

The laundry list of activities has become expensive for the group, ranging from working with county and city governments for projects to taking the bull by the horns to work on activities.

Malone and Seehorn were two of the key cogs that assisted with the creation of the Hampton river entrance point across from Hampton High School and were able to tackle another project in the spring with assisting with work at the Wynnwood Wildlife Rehabilitation in Carter County.

Operated by two individuals, the facility serves as a way to give rehabilitation to outdoor animals fallen on tough times. Malone first brought the project attention through social media, asking fellow members to tackle a spring cleanup project at the facility. Once the news broke, several volunteers took to the facility in the spring to offer assistance.

But the work is nothing out of the ordinary for the duo. Both Malone and Seehorn have remained adamant in providing different opportunities to give back to a community “that has given so much to us.”

Recently, the restaurant implemented a new scholarship program — Raising the Dough for Education.

Started in 2017, the restaurant was able to provide $500 scholarships to one student from each of the county and city high schools. Overall, the restaurant was able to raise $2,500.

Prior to the presentation, Jiggy Ray’s allowed the public to purchase discount cards, with proceeds going to the pot of funding to give back to the students.

“This is the most exciting day for me, probably ever since we opened,” Malone told the Elizabethton Star following the presentation. “Being able to truly help somebody is what it’s all about. We’ve been so fortunate. This community has taken care of us and it’s our duty to give back.”

Seehorn also added comments from the event, saying “Being able to do this for each school was the best I think. When we were talking about it, it could have been easy to just do one big scholarship for a student. But we wanted to make sure every school was represented.”

Music also proves to be a pivotal part of the culture created by the restaurant.

Since their creation, Jiggy Ray’s has done its part to help bolster the nightlife opportunities for downtown Elizabethton by hosting karaoke nights to help encourage the local musicians to come to the area and showcase the vocal range.

But one of the more popular opportunities offered by the restaurant is the annual spring and summer music festivals.

Incorporating the community support, Jiggy Ray’s is able to bracket off a portion of downtown to hold music festivals in the alleyway beside their business. Going into the night, patrons are able to listen and enjoy music and drinks in a safe environment.

Typically bringing in hundreds, the co-owners are quick to thank City Council and fellow downtown merchants for the opportunity to hold the events. Both Seehorn and Malone are quick to point out the events are just one tool they hope to incorporate in improving the downtown nightlife in Elizabethton and to continually build on the goal to improve the area for visitors and residents alike.

For more information on the restaurant, visit their website or call (423) 518-1500. The website also features a menu of the different dishes.