"Nothing With Something" brings viewers face to face with the diner's final years of operation. When a local health inspector prohibits Jodie from serving his famous fried chicken, Jodie's descends into a protracted struggle to keep the business flowing, make up for years of overdue repairs, and ultimately seek a new restaurant space.
Confronted with the economic challenges of keeping his business alive, the values that helped Jodie achieve success against all odds are turned on their head. His experience, documented in this film, lays bare the realities of ownership, the importance of shared space, and the limitations of community in today's small business environment.
Raised in small-town Arkansas during the Jim Crow era, Jodie Royston learned early that no opportunity would ever be handed to him. He moved to the San Francisco Bay as a young man in 1959, going from menial jobs to being head chef and manager of a large restaurant in just a few years.
Despite the fact that he was a gifted cook and a charismatic manager, Jodie found himself hitting the ceilings of his profession more often than he could stand. Seeking a better life for his family, he left the hospitality industry for a job at Chevron, where he worked until an accident in 1988 permanently damaged his back and forced him out of the position.
The tiny restaurant Jodie openedafter leaving Chevron became a local favorite and cult dining destination for visitors from around the globe.
For two decades, Jodie built out an eccentric menu of breakfast dishes and southern-style staples in the shadow of more fabled California chefs like Judy Rodgers and Alice Waters. His steadfast devotion to "the third place," a communal counter where strangers could feel safe without being isolated, granted him cult status among locals who craved unfiltered human connection just as much as they craved the perfect plate of hash browns.