Thursday, January 24, 2013

Honoring Jack's Legacy

Editor's Note: Today marks the 100th anniversary of the day Jack Rosenstein opened Jack's Oyster House in downtown Albany. This tribute was written by Nicole Lemperle Correia for the 2013 Visitors Guide, which will be available mid-February. Please join us in celebrating this Albany landmark throughout the year. Special event dates will be announced soon on

A stack of Jack's menus.
Jack's Oyster House, State Street.
When you step into Jack’s Oyster House from State Street you will feel time shift as you stand on the bridge between Albany’s storied history and bustling present. The dining room is adorned with handsome woodwork, black and white tiles, large photos of old Albany, and deep private booths that are perfect for important conversation. Jack’s is the kind of place where things happen: deals are made, legislation is negotiated, elbows are rubbed, and probably more than a few romances are ignited. There’s a good chance you’ll see one (or many) of New York State’s politicians seated across Jack’s dining room, down from the capitol for dinner with colleagues.

Jack Rosenstein opened the original Jack’s Oyster House in 1913. According to an article by William Kennedy in a 1985 issue of Esquire, Jack didn’t like oysters, but nonetheless as a young boy he became one of the best oyster shuckers in Albany. That skill started him down the path that carried him through Albany’s great restaurants, and into ownership of his own Oyster House. Stories about Jack always mention the thing that defined him and still defines the restaurant he founded: he did things right.

Since 1913, the Rosenstein family has operated Jack’s: the original restaurant was opened by Jack himself, and is now run by his grandson, Brad. It is clear from the preparation of the food, the attention to detail, and the recent seamless additions to the space that the restaurant is treated as a beloved member of the family - and so are Jack’s patrons. From the moment you enter Jack’s Oyster House and are greeted warmly (often by Brad himself), you will feel like royalty. The feeling is mutual: generations of Albany residents have considered Jack’s a member of their family: a place to return again and again, where milestones were celebrated and meals savored.

The food at Jack’s, of course, is as outstanding as the service. Each component of each meal is prepared with care: fresh, unique, and delicious. Whether you choose one of Jack’s signature oyster dishes, filet mignon, or crab cakes, your meal at Jack’s will be memorable and likely to inspire you to plan your next visit even before you leave.

As Jack’s celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, the tradition of above-and-beyond service continues, along with its custom of serving seven-days a week, all year long. It has closed for just one day: in 1987, the day of Jack Rosenstein’s funeral.

Settle into a booth at Jack’s. Order a martini. Leave your cellphone in your pocket, and imagine you’re in another, slower, time. Take pleasure in each heavenly bite of your meal. Have a civil political debate with your dining partner. Sip your beverage. Celebrate. Notice the lighting and the silverware. For just a few hours, let Jack’s take you back in time. 

."..deep private booths that are perfect for important conversation."

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