Eye of the World

Beaumont

Starting in 1923, Beaumont businessman John Gavrelos carved out a realm of his own at his J&J Steak House on the Eastex Freeway. Gavrelos died in 1979, but his Eye of the World , a tiny museum appended to the side of the restaurant, still lures visitors with its enigmatic jumble of wooden biblical scenes and tiny replicas of famous buildings. Gavrelos, a native of Greece, joined his brother Jim and spent most of his time working in the eatery or whittling cast-off fruit crates and cigar boxes until he had filled a trailer parked outside J&J with pint-size reproductions of beloved buildings from his childhood: the Parthenon, a Louisiana church, and a couple of Greek monasteries. Biblical scenes such as Jacob’s dream and the Nativity soon took their places among the buildings. When the Gavreloses built their new restaurant in 1959, they added a separate room for the museum, with its own neon sign and picture window. Other members of the Gavrelos family contributed papier-mâché mountains, bridges, streams, and people—not necessarily to scale. The J&J is still run by the family, and although they have never advertised the museum, it’s still a local attraction. Great-nephew John Gavrelos says, “We promised my uncle we’d always keep the museum next to the restaurant.”

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...

Most Read

  • Viewed
  • Past:
  • 1 week