JJ Madisons has a wall of televisions, attracting North Dakota State University and Midwestern football team fans. But owner David Moore stressed JJ Madisons is more than a sports bar.
“One of the difficult things to communicate and market is we look like a sports bar because we have a lot of televisions, but we’re really a casual dining restaurant,” said Moore, whose restaurant is at Power Road and University Drive in Northeast Mesa. “This isn’t pub grub. We make almost everything from scratch.
“We have mussels, pork schnitzel and cod fry on the menu. We try to communicate we’re serious. We really do cook.”
JJ Madisons specializes in Broaster Chicken, a 60-plus-year-old company that uses a special blend of ingredients and a cooking method to make it juicy.
“We’re very famous for Broaster Chicken,” he said. “It started in the Midwest. It’s basically chicken marinated for a day and then cooked in a pressure cooker fryer. French fries, when they’re cooked in oil, cook from the outside in.
“With a pressure cooker, it cooks from the inside out. That’s why food in a pressure cooker stays so moist and you get a super moist, tender piece of chicken. It doesn’t retain the oil and it’s almost the same calorie count as rotisserie chicken.”
The six-page menu also has the likes of shepherd’s pie, crispy frog legs, 20 angus burgers, bacon-wrapped bison meatloaf, osso bucco and breakfast.
“I’m very inspired by the Food Network TV show Diners, Drive Ins and Dives,” said Moore, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Janet, a retired teacher. “I’ve seen every episode and borrowed a lot of ideas from them. They’re always traveling throughout the United States.
“If you notice, the names of my dishes indicate the area they’re logically from. Like there’s a New Jersey calzone. The Hawkeye burger is from Iowa. We have so many Midwestern people here. We have pork schnitzel on the menu. If you’re not from Wisconsin, you may not have heard of it. We have a very diverse menu. We have so many regulars—people who eat here Monday to Friday—we need to have options. The loyal group of repeat customers is the nicest compliment you could ever get.”
The kitchen is led by Adam Stein, formerly of Las Sendas and Steak and Stone, and Don Grant, a veteran of Detroit restaurants.
“Chef Adam, we persuaded him to come here,” Moore said. “He’s very good. They divide the duties. Don is more creative and decides on the new dishes and sauces. Adam is more on the side of kitchen management, but he’s a very good cook, too.”
Moore – the former Circle K chief operating officer, running 4,000 stores, 20,000 employees in 28 state – has been in the restaurant business for 18 years. He owned Famous Sam’s, the predecessor to JJ Madisons, before his current establishment. JJ Madisons is partially named after Burt Reynolds’ character in The Cannonball Run.
“When Famous Sam’s went away, I changed to my own thing,” said Moore, who is considering bringing back a pig roast. “That’s when it became JJ Madisons eight years ago.
“I think, with my business background, I know I can never stay the same,” Moore said. “I constantly look for new products and new ways of doing things. I have to keep up with consumer trends and demands. I’m always looking forward.”
430 N. Power Road, Mesa
10 a.m. to midnight Sunday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday