The Reshetar family operated Little Jack’s Steak House for 70 years. Jack and Josephine Reshetar opened Little Jack’s Steak House in 1932. When it closed in 2006, it was the oldest restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis.
The Reshetar Years
It’s been said that Little Jack’s got its name because of owner John “Jack” Reshetar’s short stature. But he made up for what he might have lacked in physical height in personality. Jack was known as a community leader in Northeast. He often acted as an intermediary between his devoted middle-class clientele and his friends in city hall, police headquarters, and union offices across the city.
As Jack took on a role as the face of Little Jack’s, his wife Josephine was the one who is credited with turning casual diners into regulars. She was the chef, ran the kitchen, and created the menus that kept Little Jack’s on par with the fancier restaurants in town. During World War II, Josephine was featured in the Saturday Evening Post as one of the few female owner-chefs in the restaurant business.
The building that housed Little Jack’s was built in 1902 and served as a saloon with a general store above for decades. The Reshetars purchased the building in 1932. It had evolved into a cafe with an apartment upstairs and an amusement room for customers in the basement. Jack and Josephine moved into the upstairs apartment and started their business — and their family — there. The couple welcomed four children while operating the restaurant.
After Jack died in 1966, Josephine passed the restaurant to her two sons. She continued to help them out by planning the menus and testing new recipes until the mid-1980s. Her sons continued to operate the restaurant for another decade after Josephine’s death in 1991.
End Of A Legacy
After the Reshetars, Jang Enterprises operated the restaurant and added several Asian dishes. The restaurant’s new direction and menu received rave reviews from critics. Still, Little Jack’s regulars found the changes more than they could handle. The restaurant closed after just two years.
Little Jack’s final owner, Jake Jewell, purchased the restaurant from Jang Enterprises in 2004. Although many menu favorites were returned to the menu, Little Jack’s wasn’t the same without the Reshetar’s tried-and-true recipes and careful menu planning. It closed for good in 2006 after a string of health and safety code violations.
A Future For The Building?
The city considered condemning the building, but a plan to demolish it in 2006 made it an unnecessary step in the process. It’s unclear why the building was eventually spared. However, many plans to replace the building with condos or retail have fallen through over the years. Other plans to restore the building have also never come to pass. As I’m posting this article, the building still stands, mostly boarded up.
Little Jack’s Walnut Dressing
- 8 cups dry bread
- ¾ cup butter
- 1½ cups onions, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- ½ tsp. of each leaf sage, ground thyme, and poultry seasoning
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- ⅛ tsp. of each sweet basil, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon
- 1 cup seasoned chicken soup
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- Break dry bread into small cubes.
- Melt butter in saute pan. Add onions and celery; saute until vegetables are tender and begin to color. Remove from heat and add seasonings and chicken stock. Return to heat and bring to a boil.
- Remove pan from heat and mix well. Place bread cubes into a baking dish. Then use the seasoned vegetable mixture to moisten bread cubes. Fold in the walnuts.
- Bake at 325° until heated through and top of bread cubes become slightly crispy.