Jam! Let’s Do Brunch

Cassi Miller

Brunch. It’s everyone’s favorite fused word and everyone’s favorite lazy-day meal. It manages to gather together gaggles of chatty friends who hash out and try to recall the hazy details of the weekend’s events and families seeking delicious respite after the rush to church in the early hours of the morning. It is unlike any other meal out there because it occupies a category all its own, somehow fulfilling our needs for hearty breakfast fare, full-bodied lunch combos, and delicious drinks all at the same time. Its catchphrase “let’s do brunch” has even replaced the typical, generic “let’s do lunch,” offering something a little more to a crowd that may be hard to please. But, how did this magical meal start? Where did it come from?

Scour the internet for the origins of this magical meal, and you’ll get conflicting yet interesting tales of mealtime history. Some reports suggest that it stems from the meals served after great hunting expeditions in England. Others think it may have come as a response to churchgoers seeking something lighter than those traditional, heavy, after-church Sunday meals. But of course, it was Hollywood that eventually popularized the concept of brunch in the 1930s. From there, the rest really is history and brunch continues to adapt and change even to this day. Regardless of its origin, brunch has become almost an American pastime. Now, where does that leave the brunch-lovers of Montana? Where do they go to satiate the cravings for this in-between, mid-morning meal? While Bozeman has some absolutely gold star breakfast places and an endless variety of hot little lunch spots, where are the brunch places? Where’s the fun crossovers and breakfast favorites and yummy lunch options? Well, they are now at Jam.

I sat down with Jam’s Aaron Parker to get a sense of him, Jam, and the restaurant’s place within the budding Bozeman food scene.

CM: What made you want to get into the restaurant business?

AP: Well I started cooking when I was about 14 years old. I started down that path in Bismark, North Dakota at a little Italian restaurant there. By the time I was 16 years old, I was actually running the line at the restaurant. When the time came, I decided I wanted to go to school, so I enrolled at Montana State here in Bozeman. I continued working in restaurants and while I was working on my degree, I made my way into managing and owning.

CM: So, how was Jam conceptualized? How did this place come about?

AP: My partners and I were actually down in Denver buying restaurant equipment for Dave’s Sushi. I’m part of the group who’s involved in that place.

CM: Oh, how long have you been there?

AP: We have been doing Dave’s going on four years now. Anyway, we were down in Denver and we realized what a concept brunch was. It is not just another meal, not just a way to fill time. It’s an event. It is so much more than a meal. We realized we didn’t really have a place like that in Bozeman. So when we returned home, we waited for the right moment. I was also part of the team that took over Frank’s Custom Catering and Deli in 2012 and we were looking for a way to bring back some of the best and favorite things from Frank’s. It just needed a little something more than that space could offer people. Now, we have that. Jam is able to fit both breakfast and the classics from Frank’s, like the cheese steak sandwiches everyone loves so much. It paired well with what we wanted to do here, but Jam also allows us to add some new options. We waited for the perfect location to open up, and we think we’ve found it.

CM: Oh that’s nice to see Frank’s shine here, too. So, what do you enjoy most about being a part of Bozeman?

AP: Well, it is definitely a dynamic community. I have been here around 14 years now and I have seen it change so much, both as a whole and as a food community. And there is a lot of diversity and culture here, though that might not be the first thing people think of. I think we can all really appreciate that about Bozeman. The food scene alone here in Bozeman is really exploding. The customers are a bunch of good, laid back people. Nothing is really the end of the world when people get into disagreements. At the end of the day, the people are what make this community so great.

CM: What makes Jam unique in Bozeman?

AP: Well, for starters, it is the first real brunch spot in Bozeman. Brunch is such a unique way to bring people together. I mean, people will revolve their day around getting brunch with their friends. If you’ve had a good night, you can start the next day off in a good way with a good brunch. It has been fun for us to see that in here. We’ve had bachelorette parties come in here to start off their celebrations for the weekend. We also wanted to create some of that same Dave’s vibe here. If you have ever been into Dave’s on a Friday and Saturday night, the place is usually packed with all kinds of people. Everyone is drinking, laughing, enjoying their food, and not taking things too seriously. We wanted to bring that into Jam as well.

CM: That leads me right into my next question! What do you want people to experience here when they step through your doors?

AP: Right now, we’re focused on the familiars that people love to eat with fun, new twists. We want it to be a reawakening of the taste buds in a way. You expect what you know from those classic dishes, but then we try to surprise you. We also want people to try new things and we want to offer them new pairings of foods they haven’t thought of before. We also want the atmosphere to be as much a part of the experience as the food. We have this beautiful mural in here. This was actually painted by one of the sushi rollers from Dave’s, Lorin Pope. We get a lot of compliments on her piece. Even the music is a part of what you’re experiencing at Jam. It keeps that fun, relaxed atmosphere going.

CM: What do you guys have on deck for the summer months?

AP: We are hoping to get a patio up and going for the summer. We want people to really enjoy that. We are also looking to add more savory specials to our rotation. We think we’ve got the corner market on some of the sweet stuff for breakfast, so we really want to see what we can add on the savory side. Our executive chef, Dave Whieler, has had experience in four-star restaurants. He’s worked in places like New York City and really knows what he’s doing and how to experiment. So, we will be playing up the savory breakfast and lunch offerings. We’ve got lots of new items coming your way.

CM: Last question, Aaron, what’s the most popular dish here at Jam?

AP: Oh definitely our crab cake benedict. That’s a real crowd pleaser. Also, people really love the huevos rancheros we make.

And while those might be the current popular items on the menu, Jam has so much more to offer people. The pancakes are light and fluffy, offering up unique flavors for people looking to venture beyond the typical pancake. Their stuffed French toast is another dish people should explore. Crisp, golden, and melts in your mouth would be the start of describing this decadent dish. They also operate with a beer and wine license, so that means the best part of brunch is not forgotten. Jam offers its fun and unique twists on the classics like, you guessed it, bloody Marys and mimosas. It’s just as every brunch-goer dreamed! If lunch is more your thing, look for some of those Frank’s Deli favorites. That’s the beauty of brunch! You can decide which meal you would rather fulfill.

Bozemanites and the Greater Gallatin Valley covet good food. We know it, love it, and we will go great lengths to get what we’re craving. Jam takes that desire for good food and amps it up to fit the enjoyment of the brunch scene. I think it’s already well on its way to becoming a Bozeman favorite and I’m looking forward to watching how they continually transform the space and the menu. So, the next time someone says it’s time to “do brunch,” you know where to find me.  

This was made by

Cassi Miller

Cassi is a writing instructor and veteran services tutor at MSU and also works for Montana Gift Corral. She loves exploring everything Montana has to offer and spending time with her husky named Flames. She can be reached at: cassijo79@gmail.com

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