Jeff and Candi Hare enjoy owning JAC’s Bar and Grill in Chatfield.
Jeff and Candi Hare enjoy owning JAC’s Bar and Grill in Chatfield.
Jeff and Candi Hare are realizing the culmination of a dream as they operate JAC's Bar & Grill in Chatfield, formerly TaCade's Sports Bar. The couple purchased the establishment this past fall, opening it on Oct. 1, as JAC's, an acronym for Jeff and Candi.

"We have a lot of pie-in-the-sky dreams, a lot of fun changes we'd like to make, but our goal is to be here in two to three years and then make the changes," explained Jeff.

These possible changes include making the kitchen easier to work in, but for now, they are busy making sure people like their burgers and have fun. The two strive to provide tasty food and a festive atmosphere so customers will "love our food and keep coming back."

The couple had long considered opening a restaurant together, as Candi noted, "It's always been Jeff's dream to have a restaurant, and when the former owners wanted to sell, they came to us as buyers, knowing Jeff's dream. When we married a few years ago, his dream became a shared dream."

Jeff had worked as a waiter and bartender at TaCade's for approximately a year and also at the Mayo Clinic as a lab assistant for several years. Candi was a manager at the Chatfield Kwik Trip for three and a half years.

Candi stated, "Together, we have people and management skills."

Her husband agreed, "Since we met, we knew we definitely had talents with the public and I've always felt that we were giving those talents to other businesses. I've wanted a restaurant my whole life, and I've been here waiting tables and bartending for the past year."

Jeff said he always felt he had a great job at Mayo and he loved it, but was at the computer all day. "I always wanted to own a restaurant, so now that I have a partner in life who wanted to take the plunge with me, it's awesome," he added. "We've got a lot of growing and learning to do, but this is an awesome opportunity. I love making people happy and talking with them. Since we've owned this place, I've wanted people to have to go home, not to want to go home."

Since taking ownership, the Hares have made a few changes to the business, beginning with the sign outside the front door and continuing with returning and adding items to the menu.

Candi observed, "People have been very supportive. We've taken constructive criticism and worked around it. We've really worked on our wait staff and service and learned more about the bar."

She added that the restaurant upgraded its hamburgers to 100 percent beef from local farmers, brought back some of the burgers so that they have a total of 15 different burgers on the menu.

There are also wraps, new appetizers such as deep fried pickles and Irish nachos and new nightly specials. There are also new specialties to the breakfast menu such as sweet cream pancakes.

Daily specials may change according to cook's choice, but nightly specials at JAC's begin Monday with wings and fries, Tuesday kids' night, Wednesday night dollar tacos, Thursday night "buy-one-get-one" burgers, a Friday night fish fry featuring either all-you-can-eat or two-piece dinner fish, Saturday night cook's choice, and Sunday, genuine broasted chicken.

As a perk, The Garage, the dining room to the establishment's southwest side, is still available for free for parties of up to 50 who would like to enjoy one another's company and dine on some good chow.

The Hares admit that while nearly 80 percent of their business is restaurant business, they're learning what bar customers would like and accommodating them accordingly, as well as featuring a beer of the month and specialty and seasonal beers.

Furthermore, they rise and shine early for breakfast, long before happy hour is even a thought. "We have a full breakfast menu," Candi stated, "and we're open at 6 every day except Sunday, when we open at 7."

Their staff rises and shines with them, no matter whether the eggs are sunny side up or feeling slightly scrambled. The staff at JAC's includes longtime cook Becky Irish, who's been at the grill for nearly 15 years, and Sue McKenzie, who is rounding out half a decade alongside Irish.

"We have great kitchen and wait staff. They've become family. Becky and Sue keep the kitchen running," Candi added.

The Hares understand that restaurant ownership is hard work, but Jeff enjoys "the public and being able to surprise them with what we've been able to do...we had faith that we could, otherwise we wouldn't have made this leap."

Candi cited that she enjoys seeing the community on a daily basis since she got to know everybody while working at the Kwik Trip. "It's nice to see them come in and be able to visit," she added.

Better yet, they come to visit the bar and grill when there are notable country singers in town, such as when Billy Dean stopped in at JAC's and signed the wall after his concert at Potter Auditorium last fall, and take in the excitement of sharing company and a drink.

Dean will be returning to JAC's on Saturday, Jan. 19, with Dan Mahar for an acoustic evening, beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Candi would like JAC's, at 129 South Main St., to become a venue for notables like Dean to feel comfortable, but also feels it's important for their regular customers to be welcome and well-served each and every day.

Jeff stated that their main goal for the eatery and bar - after "making the number of burgers on the menu 25 or more" - is "to be here in 15 to 20 years and still running it, or being able to retire and pass it on to our kids."