To say I am bummed about the news of Jack’s passing is too simplistic. Since I really don’t have the right word available, allow me instead to share a couple of stories about that biker dude you see on the cover of the Weekly.
I first met Jack in early 2009 when I was attending UNLV. Thursday nights after my late class would wrap I would walk over to The Freakin’ Frog to get a beer, burger, and some fries. The Frog was a beer bar known for its massive bottle selection. While the bar was a standout place in all the noise that is Vegas, it was Jack that made the place what it was.
The Frog had a tiny kitchen space. The space was so small that Jack could cook, spin in a 180 degree circle, pour a beer, deliver said beer, spin back, and finish cooking all within a two foot radius — yeah small. I sat at the bar, looked at the menu, and noticed the biker dude who was chatting with Video Bob, he asked Bob to hold on, walked over and greeted me warmly. As if I had always come to the Frog. I ordered a burger with sweet potato fries and asked what beer I should get. Jack smiled and said, “follow me”. We walked to the cooler and and he proudly showed off the selection. I saw a Xingu on the shelf and ordered that. We walked back and Jack proceeded to make the burger and fries. I was hooked on the place. Sure, I have been to The Frog a couple of times before. I didn’t become a regular because of The Frog, I became a regular because of Jack.
It speaks volumes about someone when all the stories you recall are good stories. Good stories like the look on everyone’s faces when he would walk up to women, and offer them a kiss, or the look on their faces when he would deliver the kiss. Or, the one time I came in, and as I am sitting down at the bar, he offers me a taste of a beer. Being the person I am, I gladly accept, drink, and feel my face fold in on itself. The beer was a New Belgium: Lips of Faith – Sour. As my face and tastebuds were rejecting my decision, Jack starts to laugh, heartily. Come to find out he was testing a theory. He noticed that guys tend to not like the beer, but women did. I was an unwitting participant in the experiment. Throughout the rest of the evening we would chat and compare notes as he offered everyone who came into the bar a taste and got their opinion. His hypothesis appeared to be confirmed.
You could see the pride in his work and environment. Such as when someone broke his Delirium Tremens elephant (in the pic above swiped from tripadvisor). Oh, he was not happy. When he was telling the story you could see the disappointment with the person who broke it. I never saw him get angry, but as far as I can tell I don’t think he ever did, and if he did, I am very happy to never witness that! When another elephant was found, he was so happy to have it fixed. The look mattered, the place mattered, the people mattered.
One final story, Courtney and I met online, and one Thursday evening after about three days of messages and texting we decided that we would meet. I was heading for my regular night at The Frog to hangout with everyone. As I was driving over Courtney and I were on the phone talking and planning. I mentioned where I was going and she asked if it was okay for her to join. Well, long story short, Courtney and I had our first date at The Frog. More accurately, she had her first date with everyone in the group at The Frog. Later in the evening Courtney and I wanted to step out as everyone was heading out. We wanted to keep talking and learning more about each other. I let Jack know that we were going across the street and walk around campus and come back. When we came back we got another drink. Since it was just us in the bar, Jack sat and visited with us. After a while we all noted it was getting late. Jack got up, let us know that we can stay as long as we wanted, and he started to clean the place and go through the steps of shutting the place down for the night. Courtney and I sat longer and talked. Around 4:00am, we noticed that Jack was almost done, so I got up, closed the tab, thanked Jack and headed out, he mented to me that he really thought I met a good one.
As I wrap this post up I just want to point out how I believe the little gestures define Jack. Sure, I bet others have larger than life stories, but for me it was his kindness, support, and care of others that will be missed. It’s those attributes that Courtney and I measure others by. We have known several bartenders, and I am not joking when I say that several times we say to each other, “that persons alright, but they’re no Jack”.