MOUNT STERLING, Ohio (WCMH) — A Mount Sterling restaurant is honoring one of its most loyal customers with a special tribute for his 100th birthday at the end of this month.

Throughout March, family, friends and members of the Mount Sterling community are purchasing meals at Ben & Joy’s Restaurant in a campaign they are calling 100 Meals for Howard.

Howard Shumate is somewhat of a local celebrity at the restaurant.

“You’ll see his smile, he is so happy, he is friendly, he is funny,” said Cyndi Compton, owner of Ben & Joy’s.

Compton is the daughter of Ben and Joy, who opened the restaurant in 1984.

“He’s been coming here, I believe, since they opened, he just lives right outside of town,” Compton said.

Born and raised in Madison County, Shumate is an Army veteran who has dedicated his life to his farm and his hometown.

“I was born in ’21, and all my life, I lived on a farm outside of three years in the Army,” said Shumate, whose birthday is on March 28.

As he turns 100 years young this month, Shumate still mows his own lawn and drives himself to Ben & Joy’s every day.

“My wife died three years ago in February, and I’ve been here pretty regular ever since,” Shumate said.

Compton and her staff look forward to his daily visit.

“Saw me park out there and they had my coffee and water here when I come in,” Shumate said.

“He typically gets the same thing every day: his hot sauce and onions,” Compton said. “Everyone knows to give Howard that.”

“Every day’s the same, bacon and eggs,” Shumate said.

He will not be paying for his bacon and eggs for quite some time.

“His granddaughter actually had a little story in the paper, just to let people know if they wanted people to provide a meal for him for his 100th birthday, they wanted to do 100 days, and that filled up pretty quick,” Compton said.

The restaurant is now well over 100 meals for Howard, so people are sending notes and cards to honor his birthday.

“We’re going to have a cake and some balloons on his birthday, which is March 28,” Compton said.

A heartfelt way to show Shumate how much he is loved and appreciated not only at Ben & Joy’s, but throughout the community.

“I think it’s great, I appreciate it,” Shumate said.

If you’d like to send a card or support the 100 Meals for Howard campaign, you can mail a card to:

Ben & Joy’s Restaurant
35 S London St.
Mt Sterling, OH 43143