A Culinary Evolution
Restaurateur shares personal lifestyle, eating habits with patrons
Seventeen years ago this week, Jack’s Restaurant opened its doors fulfilling the longtime vision of its namesake, Jack Loconsolo, and introducing Dana Point to a new way of dining.
That’s a near two-decade-long journey that has not only seen a transformation in the restaurant location’s identity from a 50s-style diner to a casual, fine dining eatery, but also a revolutionary development within the food and restaurant cultures as consumers have emphasized their desire to learn more about their fare like how it was grown, where it was sourced and whether or not it was ethically raised.
It’s a culinary self-discovery voyage that Loconsolo himself has traveled, coming out healthier, refreshed and empowered. He’s now sharing his way of living—and eating—with the patrons of Jack’s by serving all-grass fed New Zealand beef, wild-caught fish, sustainable seafood and seasonal, organic produce.
“We are an evolving restaurant, ” Loconcolo said. “We started primarily serving thin crust pizza and traditional Italian … and we’ve evolved into serving healthy, clean foods. This evolution all started when I began looking at how I eat and what I look for in food—and that is what I want to offer to my guests. ”
Loconsolo, a Brooklyn-native proudly carrying his New York accent, has long been involved in the food trade. Growing up, he learned old-world Italian recipes from his mother. She herself was schooled by her mother, an Irish immigrant named Anna, whose Italian sister-in-laws shared their treasured culinary secrets. From the family kitchen to their pizzerias in New York, Loconsolo soaked in the knowledge.
At 20, he landed a job at John’s of Bleecker Street, the world famous pizzeria known for its thin-crust, wood-fired pies. Loconsolo learned the tricks of the restaurant trade for six years and graduated from The New York Restaurant School, since renamed The Art Institute of New York City. And in 1990, he made his way to the West Coast to work at a Dana Point restaurant—DeMario’s Café & Pizzeria.
On a run to Salt Creek Beach that summer Loconsolo looked out on the ocean and decided to stay. Seven years later and a series of sale-turnover circumstances, Loconsolo acquired the site of Jack’s Restaurant—the former home of Daddy-O’s Bicycle Café. Things just fell into place and Jack’s opened Dec. 17, 1997.
“I used to sit in here and daydream about what I would do to this restaurant, ” he recalled.
By the time Loconsolo opened Jack’s he was in his mid-30s and beat up from working 15 and 16 hour days. The lifestyle of the lifelong food-industry man was wearing on him and Loconsolo needed a change to stay fit and healthy. That modification came once he paid greater attention to what went into his body.
Loconsolo now aims to share his healthy way of life with new and returning Jack’s customers—many who have been regulars since the beginning. In collaboration with Chef Alex Arroyo, a DeMario’s coworker who opened Jack’s kitchen in 1997, Loconsolo sees his culinary visions become a reality.
Today, Jack’s signature New York-style, thin-crust pies are served nightly starting at 5 p. m. alongside Italian favorites like Loconsolo’s Irish grandmother’s eggplant parmesan and the restaurant’s evolved offerings of Turner filet minions and seafood that are accompanied by seasonal, organic vegetables. It’s new-world meets old each night at Jack’s Restaurant where consistency and service have kept customers coming back time and time again.