At night, a panorama of the Northern Lights, studded with stars, illuminates Jack’s Bar and Steakhouse. Colored with invisible paint that fluoresces in the dark, the skyscape hidden in the ceiling of New Haven’s only steakhouse, as its owners call it, is one of many extravagant tactics its owners have attempted to allure customers.
Nearly one month ago, Bladimir and Marco Siguenza, brothers and co-owners, opened their fourth restaurant in Connecticut on 212 College Street. Jack’s Bar and Steakhouse is inspired by the posh, cosmopolitan culture of metropolitan nightlife. Named after the brothers’ nephew, Jack’s serves shellfish on ice, seafood entrees and its specialty — steak — every day, for lunch and dinner. Main dishes range from a $19 burger to a $99, 40 oz. Tomahawk Chop steak.
“I wanted to bring the city, New York City, to New Haven,” said Bladimir Siguenza. “I love the nightlife in the city, and that’s what people feel like in here … I don’t have to go to the city anymore, because I feel like I am in the city. So that was my idea in the beginning. You have to see it at night, it feels like you’re in Manhattan or those fancy places. There are a lot of suits and ties here.”
Siguenza attributed the quality of Jack’s steaks to the unique cooking techniques that the restaurant uses: Only prime cuts are selected, and the meat is prepared with a special infrared broiler, which sears the steak at 900 degrees Fahrenheit, producing a char on the exterior of the cut. Hoping to make the most of every minute, the brothers supplement their regular hours of operation with a buffet-style Sunday brunch and daily happy hour. They also try to capitalize on New Haven nightlife with a specially priced late-night menu.
When the Siguenza brothers first emigrated from Ecuador to the United States 20 years ago, they started out working as dishwashers. Within two years, the brothers had fallen in love with the restaurant business, and they have been working in it together ever since, opening a steakhouse, seafood restaurant and Italian eatery in several other Connecticut cities before arriving on the New Haven food scene.
“[My brother] has been with me the whole time,” Bladimir Siguenza said. “We came together, we’re still here together … He’s the brain, I’m the muscle. He’s the thinker, he does all of the financial [work], he takes care of the numbers. What I do is manage the places.”
Despite their previous success and experience in the culinary industry, the brothers recognize that the vibrant restaurant culture of New Haven could present a challenge for them, as the city is inundated with similarly priced dining destinations.
But without any other steakhouses in the area, Jack’s has found its own niche among the restaurants that saturate College and Chapel streets.
“It’s not our type of atmosphere, it’s not our type of food, per se, but it’s decent,” said John Dugan, a first-time customer at Jack’s. “They spent a lot of money on this place, a lot of money, and they have no competition. There’s no steakhouses in New Haven.”
Beyond the restaurant’s culinary focus, the owners have also engineered an atmosphere that they hope will inspire business. The steakhouse offers 23 different high-end wines, a collection that is unparalleled in the entire country, according to Bladimir. In an effort to maintain a flexible selection and to match the ritzy feel of their New York City inspiration, the Siguenza brothers serve bottles that range from $35 to $10,000. The wines are on display in glass casing that lines the walls of the main dining room, which abuts the “Champagne Room” — a private room for events — and a fine dining space in the back of the restaurant.
Although Siguenza said Jack’s has received generally positive reviews, the atmosphere may be intimidating to some. The restaurant currently holds a three-star rating on Yelp.
“It’s just a little cool for me. There’s no steakhouses [in New Haven], but there doesn’t seem to be people looking for steakhouses,” said Elizabeth Dugan, a resident of the New Haven community and first-time diner at Jack’s who was there with John Dugan. “If you go around looking for atmosphere, I think this is a little upscale for the area.”
While the Siguenza brothers have only opened Jack’s Bar and Steakhouse for a month, they are already planning their next restaurants. The duo is in the works of settling two more leases in the next two months.
Jack’s is open from 11:30 a.m. until last call Monday through Saturday.
Ruiyan Wang | email@example.com