Edit ModuleShow Tags

DeRushaEats: Kevin Kathman OUT at Jack's


Published:

That was quick.

Kevin Kathman, the acclaimed chef who rebooted the menu at Jack’s, formerly Java Jack’s in South Minneapolis, is out. He decided this morning along with his kitchen team of four others to pull out of Jack’s.

When I was last in, Kevin told me he was hoping to buy Jack’s from owner Jerry Nelson. According to Kevin, Jerry gave him carte blanche to look over all the financials. Kevin didn’t like what he saw.

Then, “Vendors started calling me last week, staff told me their checks were bouncing,” said Kathman.

While Kevin and I were talking, I got one of the weekly press release emails that come from Jerry Nelson. “Jack's features New Dinner Menu tonight! We've brought back some neighborhood favorites...”

I emailed Jerry, and he hasn’t responded yet, but essentially Kevin said that something stunk in the way the business was being run. He’s accusing Jerry of running personal expenses and car payments through the financials of Jack’s.

Kathman’s menu was extremely ambitious, especially in a place that was essentially a neighborhood coffee shop. I loved the miso shooter he made, and an octopus dish that had cauliflower three ways⎯fried, puréed, and browned. There was a fascinating agnolotti with chestnut purée when I visited too.

Ambitious for a place that was known for sub-par sandwiches and pasta. And Kathman said it was making money, “If we would have paid every single bill, vendor, rent and utilities, we would have showed a profit of $15,000. We were making money in the slowest time of the year,” he told me.

So now Kevin Kathman, who spent time at Kim Bartmann’s empire of restaurants, spent three years working at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, is looking for a gig. He said he’s taking his team to Chicago (for the time being), they’re sticking together. And he’s hoping to find them jobs when he opens another place in Minneapolis, as he said in the comments here, “with more solvent backing.”

Jack’s is back to burgers and sandwiches. (There’s a $12 pizza on the news release I got. “Reservations recommended” as well.) Whatever happened, it’s a shame, because Kathman’s food at Jack’s was winning praise and headed in an exciting direction.

Of course, in the restaurant business there are at least three sides to every story. I’ll let you know when I hear from Nelson.
 


UPDATE: I just heard from Jerry Nelson...

We did give Kevin the keys with one condition: keep the costs in line.

The labor costs were not in line and not improving. His team was costly and he was unwilling to have anyone take a pay cut or unpaid vacation.

Sales were about the same as our previous concept with three reservations on the books for this week. This was a straight forward business decision.

I wish him and his team the best.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rfischer@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Fine Spirits Classic Twin Cities 2018

Sip on cocktails prepared by top mixologists and enjoy gourmet fare at Minnesota Monthly's seventh annual Fine Spirits Classic at Orchestra Hall on July 26

Grilled Vegetable and Bratwurst Salad Recipe

Think “outside the bun” and enjoy summer’s favorite grilled brats in a fresh veggie salad for a low-carb alternative

The Twin Cities' Best Hot Dogs

The hottest of hot dogs, to celebrate National Hot Dog Day on July 18

3 Things to Eat This Week: July 11-15

Feast on a fat sandwich, a sweet treat, or something oozy and icy

8 Juicy Places in the Metro

Fresh squeezing and blending superfoods for a super life

Review: Centro Opens in Northeast

Tacos, frozen drinks, and spectacular sides in a unique Northeast space

Cherry and Chocolate Truffle Tart Recipe

Take advantage of the short but sweet cherry season with a luscious cherry and chocolate treat

Pizza Madness: Dulono's Pizza

As one of 32 pizza participants, Dulono’s Pizza battles it out in Minnesota Monthly's Pizza Madness Bracket Challenge

3 Things to Eat This Week: Cooling Off

It's officially summer. Cool down with ice cream, poke, or cold noodles.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags