Thank you to Foodservice News for telling our story. It’s been a journey to see our business develop to what it is today. We have finally fulfilled our vision of being a restaurant, catering company, and event center. We took the government shut down to take the time to reinvent, remodel and rebrand! Now our business has a heart and soul, an Alma, something we can be proud of and stand behind!Brian Rubenzer
Walking up to Jameson’s Irish Bar (formerly Cherokee Tavern) on Smith Avenue South in West St. Paul, I noticed a Little Free Library attached to the nonchalant brick exterior. As I passed by a few empty patio tables surrounded by pink, yellow and orange flowers, the Minnesota State Capitol building made an appearance in the distance.
I ventured into the dark bar and was greeted by Brian Rubenzer, Jameson’s owner and executive chef. A customer called out his name, presenting him with Mount Rushmore salt and pepper shakers to add to his collection, years in the making.
“My wife (Mollie) wouldn’t let me display them in the house,” Rubenzer said, “So when she was doing the decorations for (Jameson’s) and starting putting the salt and pepper shakers up, it almost made me cry.”
Rubenzer, hailing from White Bear Lake, bought The Cherokee Tavern Sirloin Room in July 2017. In late July this year, Rubenzer closed temporarily to remodel the space and change the name. Named after the Native American tribe, the Cherokee Tavern had been operating under that moniker since 1933. One day on the way to his son’s baseball game, “it hit him like a ton of bricks” that Rubenzer needed to change the name.
“I have no Native blood and our food has no Cherokee connection, which was a great reason to make the name change,” Rubenzer said.
His son’s name is James—thus, Jameson’s—and his wife is Irish. This falls in line with the advice Rubenzer learned from Kaj Sorensen, a Danish master chef who taught him to “keep it simple and don’t try to be a cliché.”
This mantra also appears in his cooking. I stood off to the side while he prepared an Irish egg roll, watching as he stuffed the crust with mashed potatoes, peas, green onions and cheddar cheese. Normally the $10 appetizer includes ham, but Rubenzer made it to-order for my dietary restrictions.
Rubenzer learned how to make the dish from Sorensen, who promoted Rubenzer to executive chef of St. Paul’s Pool and Yacht Club at the ripe age of 22.