By Amy L. Schubert Food Writer Published Jul 26, 2010 at 1:08 PM Photography: Whitney Teska

Since 1978, Jerry's Old Town has been serving up ribs to hungry diners from all over southeast Wisconsin.

It has established a laundry list of commendations that come with it, including a spot among the top three restaurants in the United States in pork usage per restaurant operation, and being named the number one restaurant in the United States when it comes to pork usage per restaurant seat.

Patrons at Jerry's, N116 W15841 Main St., enter through a rustic old bar area with a slatwood ceiling and dark woodwork throughout, into a brighter, white tableclothed dining area.

Odes to pigs take over the restaurant in the form of paintings, statues, and even a large red neon of three oinkers on the exterior-there is no question that the focus at Jerry's is ribs, and the name and recipe come from original owner, Jerry Grosenick, who sold the restaurant and his recipes several years ago.

A weekday visit left us waiting for a table for some time in the half-empty dining area at Jerry's, among vacated, dirty tables. Servers carrying platters of ribs sailed past us; we would discover after we received our check that this was in part due to an all-you-can eat special offered on Thursday nights for $17.99.

While the ribs are falling-off-the-bone good, and $17.99 is a reasonable price for all the racks you can eat, lengthy waits and outright unfriendly, rude and inconsistent service left a less than pleasant taste in my mouth when I left Jerry's.

On the weekends, Jerry's is usually so packed with rib eaters that the quick drop-off, pick-up, unsmiling service is somewhat expected, but when we placed our order in the half-empty dining room without being informed of the all-you-can eat special, and when we could barely get drinks or silverware from our gruff server, we were less than pleased and had difficulty enjoying our meals.

In addition to well-known ribs, Jerry's offers supper club-style appetizers and meals including onion strings, potato skins, French onion soup, steaks, poultry and seafood. But with ribs offered alone or in combination forms, and with six varieties to choose from (original, Cajun, honey BBQ, Jamaican, habanero or naked), just about everyone here eats ribs. Some diners did so with fun plastic bibs while others, like us, weren't offered the novelties.

The original ribs at Jerry's are good, but not remarkable, with a sweet, tangy barbecue sauce and they are tender enough that a simple nudge with your fork will pull them completely from the bone.

A 10-ounce portion of ribs (half-rack, $16.45) was too small a serving for me, even with the accompanying green salad and mashed potatoes. The full rack -- 20 ounces at $20 -- was still smaller in stature than what you'll get at other rib joints in the Milwaukee area.

Had our server told us about the special, all three of us would have ordered all-you-can-eat ribs for $17.99 instead of leaving hungry. Even my companion, who ordered a full rack and was therefore charged for the special, was never offered additional ribs, though he could have easily polished off another rack.

After dinner, we walked next door to a nice little German bar, Bier Stube Von Rothenburg, N116 W 15863 Main St., where we sat in the beer garden for a drink and learned that in addition to sharing some of the servers with Jerry's, Von Rothenburg also shares the the same menu.

With a much friendlier and considerate server, as well as a lovely outdoor patio, next time I'm in the mood for ribs, I'd take advantage of Jerry's Thursday night all-you-can-eat special while relaxing and drinking on the patio next door. After all, the servers at Von Rothenburg greeted us, seated us and told us about the rib special the moment we entered the beer garden.

Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.

The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.

Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to