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Pair of waitresses celebrate working 50 years at same restaurant

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Spend 50 years in the restaurant business and no doubt you’ll have some stories to tell.

“This guy bit the other guy's finger off and we had it in the french fry basket," Jenny Russell recalled with a laugh.

Russell and Betty Reed share a rare distinction of serving up steaks at the same restaurant for 50 years.

“Betty and I are like sisters, we can work together without even speaking," Russell told WDAF.

Each started at Jess and Jim’s Steakhouse in Martin City in 1968.

“That’s three generations that I’ve worked here, three generations," Reed boasted.

Current owner Mike VanNoy was 4 years old when they started.

“We had tablecloths, and he would mess them up and make me mad, and I’d run him back in the kitchen," Reed recalled.

“They are the last part of my childhood left in this building," VanNoy said.

For some customers, the women are also the best part.

"Five tables a night will ask for me, and that’s not because I’m pretty or anything, because I’m an old lady but they love me," Reed said.

Customers joined Russell and Reed on Monday for a celebration of their 50 years at Jess and Jims. Each of the great-grandmothers say it hasn’t always been easy, like when the restaurant made the switch from notepads to computers.

"I don’t have a computer and I don’t have a cell phone," Reed said.

When asked if she ever thought of quitting during the transition, Russell said, "At least 100 times!"

Reed never planned to work 50 years.

"I just had to work so I figured I’d just work, made a lot of money," she said.

She said she’s now nearing retirement. Russell plans on staying as long as they’ll have her. But she recently cut back her shifts from four to three nights a week.

“You better have a good attitude and a smile on your face," Russell advised anyone thinking of getting into food service.