MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Easter Sunday is just a few days away, and many families will celebrate with a classic Easter brunch.
It’s a holiday tradition for Minnesotans, and WCCO wanted to know who is serving up the best.
Your votes sent us to Jax Cafe, a northeast Minneapolis mainstay that’s spanned more than 80 years and three generations of the Kozlak family.
Brunch has become more than just a meal. It is, after all, more like two, falling somewhere between breakfast and lunch — with the really good ones lasting until dinner.
And Easter Sunday sets the ultimate table for the long, lazy meal.
“It’s an easy way to celebrate, it’s a little less pressure,” owner Bill Kozlak Jr. said. “It can be less formal, although some are still in their Sunday best. And I just think it appeals to everybody.”
Kozlak is the third generation owner of Jax, an old school supper club with a menu that’s as classic as the building it calls home.
It all started in 1910 with great grandpa Stanley Kozlak.
“My grandfather built this building, and it was kind of out in the sticks,” Kozlak said. “After prohibition in 1933, we were the second liquor license, and the bar where you enter the restaurant today was ‘Jax Bar.'”
The 1980s marked another milestone for Jax and the Kozlaks. Mom Kathy wanted to do a Sunday brunch, which at the time was a little controversial.
“We used to be closed on Sundays, and when they started to build the [Metrodome] I believe in 1982 … my mother had the idea that with the Twins and Vikings moving downtown that we should start a Sunday brunch,” he said. “Now every Sunday we generally serve 300-plus people. And then on the big days like Easter, we’ll serve 1,200 – 1,300.”
It’s a big buffet of mimosas, piles of waffles, fluffy eggs, savory benedict, carved roasts and omelets made to order — and that’s just the hot table.
“The brunch crowd is really diverse, and it’s really a happy group,” Kozlak said.
It’s also one of Jax Cafe’s biggest meals.
“I think it goes back to, you know, the previous generation,” he said. “We used to have Sunday dinner, you know, and it was the family Sunday dinner. Now everyone’s so busy, and I that brunch has kind of replaced that.”
While the Jax signature brunch may be one of the best, they’re also known for their steaks, lobster tank, trout stream and for being a family favorite for special occasions.
“I can’t tell you how many people have either had been here for their baptism, their first communion, groom’s dinners, weddings,” Kozlak said. “Then those people recycle, and everybody has a Jax story.”
And the story of this Nordeast mainstay is one that spans more than 80 years, surviving prohibition, the great depression and the recession — with the right recipe.
“People like to have a go-to place. You’re not going to get the most latest and greatest fancy trend here, but when they know they want to have prime rib, or a great brunch or an old school lunch, they can count on Jax,” Kozlak said.
Jax Cafe’s Sunday brunch is 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost is just under $40 for adults and under $15 for kids.