Photo of old Jimmy’s Kitchen menu from Worthopedia
One of the more interesting tidbits to fall into our laps this morning was the news that Jimmy’s Kitchen, a pre-revolution relic that got started in Shanghai 87 years ago and expanded into Hong Kong (where it still seems to garner decent reviews), is now heading full circle back here. Its opening, sometime in the next two weeks, will put a halt to its 63 year hiatus from the city.
A little history: Joseph James Skalicky was an American officer from a small mid-western town who was posted to China in the 1910s. When he was discharged, rather than head on home, he decided to enter the hospitality industry, opening up burger stands and popcorn carts before trying his hand at a full-service restaurant located on Daming Lu (then called “Broadway”).
In 1925, he changed the name of his restaurant from The Broadway Lunch to “Jimmy’s Kitchen,” and in the years after, expanded his business into a second restaurant on what’s now Nanjing Xi Lu and several outposts in Hong Kong. According to the Jimmy’s Kitchen press people, it was “catering to the tough-minded entrepreneurs and adventurers who travelled between the two thriving port cities and the sailors and servicemen of the US and British fleets.”
In Hong Kong, Jimmy’s Kitchen moved around a lot, but has managed to survive – churning out old European comfort food like “steak & kidney pie” and corned beef & cabbage.” It’s life in Shanghai was much more tumultuous, owing to first the Japanese occupation and then the civil war. Jimmy shut down his business in 1948, moving back to the States and eventually passing away in Dallas, Texas at age 88.
Lucky then that he had expanded into Hong Kong. Nine years ago, Jimmy’s was bought by a Hong Kong food group – and they’re the ones now bringing the restaurant back here. Says their release:
Staying true to its original vision, Jimmy’s Kitchen serves an extensive and well-priced menu of classic Continental dishes in a relaxed, family-friendly environment. Jimmy’s phenomenal success and appeal over the decades is attributed to its friendly service and the solid dependable menu that harks back to a bygone era. Old school favorites like Beer Battered Fish & Chips and Corn-fed Chicken Kiev have been top sellers for over half a century. The classic Sunday Roast is a well-loved weekend ritual…
Once you step into the convivial dining room on level one of the first floor of the Old Jin Jiang Hotel, diners will immediately experience the timeless charm of Jimmy’s Kitchen. The warm wood-paneled restaurant features soft glowing sconces, leather booth seating, hardwood floors and crisp white table settings. Black and white archival photographs link the unique heritage of Jimmy’s Kitchen in Shanghai and Hong Kong throughout the past century.
Jimmy’s Kitchen will also feature a bar for pre- or post-dinner libations, and two private function rooms, one of which will accommodate 2 to 24 persons and the second private function room will accommodate 2 to 30 persons with the larger room equipped with a small stage. These private function rooms are perfect for family gatherings, board meetings, wine tastings, intimate rendezvous and a host of other special events.
It sounds adorable and will hopefully be decently priced, unlike some of the other “restored historical sites” we’ve seen pop up around the city.
1/F Level One, Jin Jiang Hotel (Cathay Building)
59 Maoming South Road,
Shanghai 200020, China
+86 (21) 6466 6869