Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jaker's

Published in December 2009 in the Post Register.

It’s 1975 and the Captain and Tennille are burning up the pop charts, Jaws is the blockbuster movie and a recession, complete with unemployment nearing 10 percent, is in full bloom.

In the aftermath of Watergate and the middle of a grim economy, Jake Jones opens restaurants in Pocatello and Idaho Falls. More than three decades later, the Pocatello “Jake’s” is long gone, but Jaker’s in Idaho Falls, its name changed after a tiny legal wrangle with someone else apparently named Jake, is still bringing us in. Jaker’s also has expanded to Twin Falls and Meridian in Idaho and Missoula and Great Falls in Montana, with plans to open a new restaurant in Elko, Nevada.

On a snowy, cold Sunday evening in Idaho Falls, Jaker’s is bustling despite the slippery roads.

“Don’t get me doing salad,” pleads Adrian Frausto as I prepare to take pictures while he does salad prep. He moves over to the grill later, but not before Mayo McCrady steals the limelight, flipping the contents a skillet in each hand. He gets a solid ribbing when some of the contents end up on the grill.

Jaker’s is a steak and seafood place with a basic wine and beer list, enough liquor and TV sets on the bar side to provide a reasonable happy hour, and a reliable menu that eaters have been depending on for 34 years.

Assistant Manager Cassie Miller believes communication, as much as food, has given Jaker’s its longevity.

“It’s been a very good crew, good management. They’ve made the customers very important. Working here is very easy. People actually care about their jobs.”

Regulars of Jaker’s know to expect the ubiquitous scones – made at a Twin Falls bakery but finished fresh at each restaurant, plus a few other standards like the prime rib, clam chowder and, of course, the chicken a la Jaker’s, which is the restaurants version of chicken Oscar.

Recent innovations include the introduction of a soup and salad bar (which Miller says has tripled lunch traffic) and a new, small plates menu to take a little of the edge off the recession. Of course, this is the fifth recession Jaker’s has been around for, so getting through this one ought to be a piece of cake.

1 comment:

  1. If you have not tried Mayo McCready's cooking, I would suggest you get over to Jaker's ASAP. He is amazing!

    ReplyDelete