POSTCARD – CHICAGO – LITTLE JACK’S RESTAURANT – 3175 WEST MADISON AT KEDZIE – FOUR IMAGES PLUS LOGO – SEE READER COMMENTS FOR AN APPROXIMATION OF THE FAMOUS CHEESECAKE RECIPE   18 comments

LITTLE JACK'S RESTAURANT - 3175 WEST MADISON AT KEDZIE - FOUR IMAGES PLUS LOGO

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18 responses to “POSTCARD – CHICAGO – LITTLE JACK’S RESTAURANT – 3175 WEST MADISON AT KEDZIE – FOUR IMAGES PLUS LOGO – SEE READER COMMENTS FOR AN APPROXIMATION OF THE FAMOUS CHEESECAKE RECIPE

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  1. I clearly remember my uncle and aunt bringing
    a famous Little Jacks famous Cheescake to
    our home on Sunday evenings.The single
    most delicious Cheescake, bar none.

    When I came back to Chicago in 1964, the
    restaurant was closed and the cheescakes were
    being sold in a nearby drugstore. Later in the
    70s I searched out and hooked up with one of the sons..and he made a cheescake for me in his] northshore home.

  2. As one of John H. Levin’s or “Little Jack’s” grand-sons I would like to thank you for keeping the memory alive with the photo’s from the old restaurant and that great story. I was the little blond kid with my cousins who kept sneaking into the kitchen.
    Robert Levin

    Lawrence Levin, Jr.
    • How very nice to receive this. Thank you, Robert.

      John Chuckman

    • My dad owned the camera store next to the cheescake factory. Marks Cameras. He was friends with Jack and my sister was friends with Frank. I have lots of stories. We lived above the store and I went to Marshall High.

      • Thanks, Warren. I love new bits of information about any of these items, as the fact that there was a cheesecake factory.

  3. Just wanted to share a memory of Little Jack’s Cheese Cake. When I was growing up my dear father always talked about how wonderful this place was. I grew up on the southwest side if Chicago. (79th & Plulaski) In the early 1960’s I remember taking many rides to the west side with my family to pick up a cheesecake………..My sister and I still talk about how wonderful that treat was. The thick creamy cheese and the rasins…and that graham cracker crust. I still think it was the best cheesecake I have ever had. So as Bob Hope would sing THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES….
    With warm and sweet thoughts..Etta M Friend

  4. Being born in Chicago, I still have very fond memories of going downtown on the elevated with either my grandparents or Mom & Dad and a MUST stop and treat was going into Little Jack’s and taking home a cheesecake! Even though I was only 5 and 6(moved to San Diego), opening the bag, watching my Mom slice that cheesecake and gulping it down in 2, or, 3 bites, still remains ever so clear.

    To this day, no cheesecake has come close to my all time favorite…Little Jack’s; Thanks for the experience!

  5. My Family, First my Gandfather Jack, Then my Dad Irving, Then my Aunt Sonya. Had a furniture store at Madison and Albany, from the late 1930’s until about 1967. I remeber my cousin Sheldon” Bar Mitzpah party at Little Jacks. Who could forget the Cheesecake. I seem to taste it every time I play the jazz tune Cheesecake

  6. My father Jess Leahy was master of Union Park Lodge in 1946 and a dinner was held at little jacks which I attended at the age of 8. I always remembered the fine dining.

    • Being a resident of the Near North Side, I would have never heard of Little Jacks but for a Sunday night when my Uncle and Aunt would bring one to our home. Mom put on the coffee and I was in heaven…no one, no
      way can put together a cheese cake to equal it…it is a shame the recipe isn’t in play.

  7. Thanks for the site, my mother and grandmother worked as waitress’s at the restaurant
    my mom was Frances Wake/ Wilcox and grandma was Helen Wake, I remember meeting Mr. Jack and eating at the store when mom worked, she would take me into the cheesecake factory when I was a young boy and show me how cheesecakes were made and even brought some home once in awhile.
    Thanks
    Frank Wilcox

  8. Bev Bennett of the Chicago Sun TImes published the recipe for a “cheesecake like Little Jack’s” in the 1970s. She described how she made several cheesecakes for the son of the owner of Little Jack’s, who wouldn’t give her the recipe outright, but made suggestions and kept telling her that she was getting warmer. Ultimately he said: this latest version (the recipe she published) is as close as you can get. So here is another reprint of that recipe. This cheesecake is dry, firm, not too sweet, and wins praise every time my wife bakes and serves it.

    ____________________________________________________

    Hi Joel, Thanks for this. I’ve copied the recipe and appended it below:

    (APPROXIMATION OF) LITTLE JACK’S FAMOUS CHEESECAKE RECIPE

    From the time it opened in 1905, until it closed in 1962, Chicago’s Little Jack’s restaurant was a force in the Chicago restaurant scene. At its peak in the ’50s, the sprawling three-dining room restaurant reportedly served between 600,000 and 1 million meals annually. Named for John H. “Little Jack” Levin (1887-1971), a Chicago Park District commissioner from 1946 to 1969, the restaurant & bar had its own cigar and whiskey labels, and was the first to offer air-conditioning. But Little Jack’s is best remembered for its cheesecake. Light-textured despite plenty of dry-curd cheese, cream-cheese and half-and-half, the cake had a graham-cracker-crumb crust, plumped raisins at the bottom and a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on top. Various recipes for the cake have run over the decades. This is our tested version in the Little Jack’s style. If you’re planning this for a special occasion, be sure to start a day ahead of time. The cake is best if left to rest in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

    Makes 10 to 12 servings; one 9-inch cake

    Cheesecake Filling Ingredients

    2, 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (1 lb total)
    6 ounces dry curd cottage cheese pressed through a sieve OR 6 ounces dry curd farmers cheese
    3/4 cup pure-cane sugar
    6 large eggs
    1 cup sour cream
    1 cup half-and-half
    1 cup raisins, plumped in 3/4 cup boiling water (OR 1 cup raisins plumped in 3/4 cup hot, dark rum–NOTE: Little Jack’s did not use the rum–but we LOVE the rum raisin taste in there)

    Graham Cracker Crust Ingredients

    1 sleeve graham crackers, crushed with a rolling pin
    4 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

    Topping Ingredients

    1 finely-crushed graham cracker
    1 Tbsp pure-cane sugar
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 cup whipped cream

    Instructions

    Plump raisins: Pour boiling water, or, hot rum over raisins and allow to sit, covered, until the raisins plump.
    Make filling: In a microwave on 50 percent power, heat the two blocks of cream cheese for 1 to 2 minutes until softened. Using a fork, combine softened cream cheese with dry curd cheese. Switch to a wooden spoon. Add sugar 1/4 cup at a time and stir until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, still stirring with wooden spoon. Stir in sour cream and half-and-half.

    Make crust: Finely crush graham crackers with a rolling pin. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Melt butter; stir into graham cracker crumbs.
    Assemble cake: Press buttered crumbs into bottom of nine-inch springform pan. Drain excess water or rum from raisins: sprinkle over the crust. Carefully pour the cream cheese batter over the raisins to fill the springform pan.

    Bake: Place a pan of water in the bottom of the oven. On a rack in the center of the oven, place a sheet of foil; Place cheesecake on top of the foil. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn oven off and crack open the door. Allow cake to rest in oven an additional 15 minutes with the door slightly ajar. Remove cake to a cooling rack. Rest cake for another 20 minutes or until cake is just lukewarm. Release cake from the sides of the springform pan. Place cake in a cake holder and place in refrigerator overnight.

    When ready to serve, using a flour sifter, sift sugar, cinnamon and finely crushed graham cracker together once. Holding the sifter over the top of the cake, pour the mixture into the sifter a second time and gently tap/sift some of the mixture on to the top of the cake. Slice individual pieces. On each slice, place a dollop of whipped cream; sift a bit more of the sugar/cinnamon/graham cracker crumbs over each whipped cream dollop.

  9. I remember Litte Jacks.My mother would bring me for a haircut to the barber shop, which was next door.After the hair cut, we would go to Little Jacks for cheese cake…Early fifties

  10. I am glad to have found this.My mother Delphine worked there for quite a few years.She was the hostess.
    My stepfather was a bartender there as well.
    I remember (on occasion) going to the lake shore club on Sundays for dinner with the Levins.Jack Levin was always kind to me.

  11. I remember sitting at the counter and having the best cup of coffee I have ever had before or since. It was a very cold winter evening in 1948. My Father-in-law took my new husband (Jack) and me to Little Jack’s. Memories of the warm greetings, the delicious food and the best coffee are still with me. Thanks for the memories.

  12. I have memories of looking thru the window of the restaurant because we were not allowed in, but the one thing I remember is the kindness of the staff who would tell the kids to come to the rear and they would give us food because they didn’t like us standing looking at the customers eating. It was a nice restaurant and I said one day when I was grown up I would go there.

  13. My wife and I were talking about cheesecake and I told her that the best cheesecake was “Mrs. Little Jacks” in Chicago. My Grandfather had a tailor shop around the corner on Kedzie Ave and we would visit on Saturday and end Shabbat with them. The meal was always dairy as I recall and when we left we would pick up a cheesecake and take it home to enjoy for almost a week. Great memories, not only of cheesecake but of my wonderful parents and grandparents.

  14. My mom Angelina worked at Little Jacks and my dad – Larry – owner of Senate Florists across the street met at the restaurant, late 1950s.

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