MP's trademark bull from J&L Steakhouse retires to Arizona

Submitted photo

This plastic bull, which used to sit atop J & L Steakhouse in Mt. Pleasant in the 1970s, was retired to Arizona this month by the J & L Steakhouse owner’s daughter Susan King.
Submitted photo This plastic bull, which used to sit atop J & L Steakhouse in Mt. Pleasant in the 1970s, was retired to Arizona this month by the J & L Steakhouse owner’s daughter Susan King.

The J&L Steakhouse bull, which became a trademark of Mt. Pleasant in the 1970s, is being retired to Arizona.

For years, a plastic bull sat on top of J&L Steakhouse in Mt. Pleasant until the restaurant closed in the 1980s. The bull disappeared, hidden in a garage for 30 years until it was unearthed by the daughter of the steakhouse owner, Susan King. After a life well-lived, the bull is being relocated to Arizona where Susan will place it under the shade of a tree on her property.

“The bull was sitting on top of that steakhouse for years,” Susan said, whose dad Bill King owned the restaurant. Joanne and Bob Dunston, her aunt and uncle, ran the restaurant. “I thought I’d save the bull. It has sentimental value to me. I wanted to bring it out to where I live and retire the bull.”

Susan said her uncle had been a chef in Colorado Springs, Colo., at a luxury hotel. He brought really good food to Mt. Pleasant, she said. The restaurant they ran was a “mom and pop” place, really simple, Susan said.

“They had really good food,” Susan said. “My aunt and uncle were just really nice people, really friendly.”

Susan said she found the bull when she was cleaning some of her father’s old properties in Mt. Pleasant. He turned 91 years old this year and recently retired to Florida, she said.

The bull was covered in all kinds of stuff, holding up two-by-fours, doors and glass windows, she said. It weighs about 150 pounds and is made out of hard plastic.

Susan isn’t sure where the bull originated from — and neither is anyone else who can recall the bull — but there are a lot of fond memories associated with J&L Steakhouse.

Dawn Avery, of Tennessee, grew up in Mt. Pleasant and even worked at J&L Steakhouse when she was 16-years-old. Her first memory of the restaurant, however, is going there with a friend after school to get a giant cinnamon roll when she was in first or second grade.

Avery also went to school with Susan, and they graduated from Mt. Pleasant Community High School together. Avery, who is Facebook friends with Susan, said when she saw Susan’s post about moving the bull to Arizona she had such fond memories of the restaurant.

“I just remember (the bull) always being there,” Avery said. “ (J&L Steakhouse) was a happening place for a while.”

When she was 16, Avery started working for J&L Steakhouse. A waitress there took her under her wing and taught her the tricks of the trade.

“She taught me never to walk away empty-handed. Anticipate what (the customer) needs. If their glass is half empty, you better be filling it up,” Avery said.

“When I got married, I waited tables to work part time, I made decent money and spent time with my babies,” Avery continued. “I waited tables half my life. I always enjoyed the people.”

Avery’s sister also graduated from Mt. Pleasant Community High School in 1985, and recalled someone stealing the bull from the steakhouse and placing it on the roof of the high school.

“There are photos in their yearbook of that bull,” Avery said, adding that she heard rumors over the years about who did it.

In fact, the bull was known to travel. Larry Thornton, of Mt. Pleasant, said that while it used to sit on top of J & L Steakhouse, it was eventually mounted on a trailer. After hours, residents would hook the trailer up to their trucks and drop it off around town as a joke.

“It traveled all over,” Thornton said. When Thornton lived on East Winfield Avenue, he recalls waking up one morning to it in his driveway. “It got taken back to the restaurant,” he said.

Thornton said that while the bull may have been a joke of the town, the restaurant itself used to draw quite the crowd.

“A lot of people ate there,” he said.