Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Club 21 - Tucson

The Club 21 menu proudly displays the earliest known photo of the historic restaurant at 2920 N. Oracle Rd.
Tucson's Club 21 is the sole survivor of once common Family-owned restaurants alongside US 89 through the Old Pueblo.  While all the original roadside diners and small restaurants that once lined US 89's famous Miracle Mile along the Stone-Drachman-Oracle Corridor are gone, Club 21 remains in the Founding Family's hands and lives on stronger than ever.

Club 21 joined the scene on the north end of the once glittering neon Miracle Mile in 1946.  Brothers George and Abe Jacob borrowed some money from their mother and rented a tourist cabin what was then north of town. The cabin had been turned into a hamburger stand. "It had about six or seven stools and three booths," says John Jacob.
Club 21's founders, Abe & George Jacob in Sept. 1950.

George, who had been a cook in the Navy, assumed kitchen duties. "He was too young to serve beer and wine," says John.

At first, Mexican food was not on the menu, says John. "I think my mother suggested it," he says. Then they took on a cook their Uncle Joe recommended who could cook Mexican food, John adds.

Over time, the brothers bought the property and the restaurant expanded, especially after a full liquor license was granted. "We kept the original building and built all around it," says John, adding that in the beginning, "we were only taking $25 a week apiece for ourselves."

"While several competing stories exist about how the restaurant got its name, the one current owner, Taft "Skip" L. Jacob, likes to tell is that his dad, George Jacob, and uncles salvaged parts of old signs — one reading "Club," and the other "21" — to come up with a name for their fledgling cafe."
Taft "Skip" Jacob loves his Family History & Heritage and celebrates Club 21's unique
role as one of only two remaining restaurants from  Mexico to Canada during
US 89's Glory Days that  remains in the hands of The Founding Family.
The US 89 Team was honored and delighted the morning of March 21, 2018, to spend an hour chatting with Skip Jacob.  Skip is a wonderful story teller and regaled us with Family Tales and some wonderful personal anecdotes.  Skip was born in  1947 and might has started working "part time" in Club 21 when he was 5 years old.   He was for sure working regularly at the eatery by 1955 when he was 8.  Skip's Family Pride in Club 21 clearly glows through all of his words and recollections.  We returned later at lunch time and enjoyed a superb lunch.  We highly recommend Club 21.

Club 21 opened its doors just as US 89 was on the doorsteps of ever-increasing post World War II traffic.  The restaurant's great location at the north roundabout on Miracle Mile helped it reap a steady flow of local and traveling customers until I-10 eventually siphoned off Miracle Mile's heavy traffic.  However, Club 21's menu and reputation was by then well known far and wide.  The restaurant not only continued to survive but thrived.  Many reviewers talk about visiting Club 21 for years, some even back into the 50's and 60's.  Some reviewers call Club 21's Mexican food the "best in Tucson".  Roughly four out of five reviewers rate Club 21 Very Good or Excellent.

Club 21 is a "must visit" for any US 89 Heritage Tourists passing through Tucson!

We took quite a few photos of Club 21 on March 21 and placed all of them in a Google Photo Album located here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UqAFFOQWVIqkfylz2

Many Thanks to Kimberley Jacob for sending along this rare photo of the
Budweiser Clydesdale's pulling the old beer wagon on Miracle Mile.
Judging from what appears to be a late-1940's Buick in the background.
we're guessing this photo shows Club 21 after it had been expanded
and improved from the original cabin. Look carefully above Club 21
and you can see a Budweiser sign. Club 21 must have already
been a very popular place for the Budweiser Clydesdale's to visit!

For the source of the above quotes and a look at Jacob Family History see:

We wish to thank Jill from the Tucson and Pima Co. History Facebook group for helping us find Club 21.  We had searched "high and low" without luck for any remaining ancestral Family-owned restaurants from US 89's early Tucson days.  We even created a post that said there were no such restaurants remaining.  Luckily, Jill came to the rescue and told us about Club 21.  Thank You, Jill!

(Editor's Note added April 10, 2018: Our original article on Club 21 was posted December 16, 2017. We interviewed Taft "Skip" Jacob on March 21 and updated the article on 10APR18.)



Click either button above to go to the
Reviews for Club 21.

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