In 1951, John Guida told his sister, Rose, (who later opened and owned Mama Roses) that he was going to open a sandwich shop on Harlem road in Cheektowaga. When Rose saw where he was going to buy, she asked him if he planned to sell to dead people because the building was across from a cemetery. In 1952, Johnny’s opened its doors for the first time with three sandwiches: the Regular (Cappacolla) for 50¢, the Royal (Cappacolla and Sausage) for 75¢, and the Sausage for 60¢. Later, around 1954, the A-Bomb was added, which was Sausage and home-made hot sauce.
John opened the restaurant and called it Johnny’s…well that lasted about a minute because Mary told him either her name went up on the sign or “the hell with him!” Needless to say, her name went up very quickly! Legend has it that John Guida talked to Angelo Constanzo (Constanzo’s Bakery) and asked Angelo to make his rolls thinner and 12 inches long and John called them Submarines. Well, those dead people could eat! John and his wife Mary would get 150 dozen rolls delivered Friday and another 100 dozen delivered Sunday.
1800 rolls sold Friday and Saturday. Every roll and tomato was sliced by hand. On Friday night, the customers would line up waiting until 12:00 a.m. to eat sausage. Back then you couldn’t eat meat on ANY Friday. John would start cooking sausage at 11:00 am to be ready for midnight where 200 customers would line up to eat meat every Friday. Every night, John and Mary also opened up their store for the teenagers from Cleveland High School. John would let them dance and have the run of the store from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Then John would throw all the kids out and get ready for the dinner crowd. Every night was also cruse night, with more hot rods then you see in the show rooms of today.
Back then John, Mary, and their two kids, Jim and Bob, worked every day from 10:00 pm until 2:00 am from mid March until the first of November when they closed for the winter to relax.
1960 – John and his brother, Sam, opened the Transit Rd J&M with brother, Sam and John’s son, Jim.
1966 – John sold J&M Harlem to Joe and Jennett Scott (whose son, Jimmy Scott still owns and operates the store) who were friends of John and Mary.
1968 – John opened up J&M Sheridan on the corner of Sheridan and Colvin which was formerly Brinson’s Drive-In. John, Mary and their boys worked in the J&M Sheridan for many years until John died in 1971. While he worked every day, he also opened up two more J&M Restaurants.
1969 – John opened the Abbot Rd. J&M with Marge and Loyde Caswell – friends of Joe Scott.
From 1998 to 2003 – Mary retired every year on November 1st and then came back to work on November 2nd until 2001 when she retired for good. She was 81. Today she is 88 and can still be seen on Saturdays coring tomatoes and yelling at everyone at the Niagara Falls Blvd. or Transit Rd J&Ms.
2005 – Bob was brought back in the business by his son, Rob, who came home from the army. They opened the Delaware J&M and resumed the operation of the Sheridan/Ashford J&M with son, John. In 2006, Bob and Rob moved the Delaware location to Niagara Falls Blvd.
Today Mary is 89 and there are 4 generations of Guida’s still proudly asking, “Mayo or oil?”
Past and Current J&Ms
Harlem- 1952 to present
Transit- 1960 to present
Sheridan/Colvin- 1966-1974 relocates to Sheridan/Ashford
Sheridan/Ashford- 1974 present
Abbott rd- 1969 to present
Millersport- 1971 to present
Main and Heath- 1973-1975 relocates to Hamburg
Batavia- 1974- 1975
Hamburg- 1975- present
Alden- 1975- present
Lockport- 1978- present
Buffalo, Main and Mohawk- 1980- 1990
Niagara Falls BLVD- 1981-1984
Union rd- 1991- 1994
Arcade- 1994- present
East Aurora- 2003- present
Delaware- 2004-2005 relocate to Niagara Falls blvd
Niagara Falls blvd - 2006 - present