GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A restaurant offering Chicago-style Italian beef is opening in Grand Rapids’ Eastown.

Jack Danger’s will be opening on Wealthy Street near Lake Drive. It was set to open up over Labor Day weekend, but is now expected to open Sept. 7. The menu will offer Chicago street food, with items like Italian beef, Vienna beef hot dogs, pizza puffs, old-school milkshakes and malts and giant pieces of six-layer cake.

The owners, Cathleen and Steven Lowenthal, said they want to bring a “Chicago experience” to Grand Rapids.

“This is something that we’re trying to do, not just for us, but the community also, and bring a little bit of Chicago to Grand Rapids,” Steven Lowenthal said. “We have a lot of people that we know that are from Chicago.”

He said he wants to bring them a piece of home in Grand Rapids.

Jack Danger's in Grand Rapids' Eastown. (Aug. 30, 2023)
Jack Danger’s in Grand Rapids’ Eastown. (Aug. 30, 2023)

Steven Lowenthal himself was born and raised in Chicago, where he worked as a DJ. For more than four decades, he’s worked in the restaurant and retail industry, working at a general manager for some larger restaurants.

He and Cathleen Lowenthal had dated for a while on and off, they explained. The two married in April.

Steven Lowenthal had always enjoyed cooking: He said when they got back together, he had perfected his Italian beef.

“She tasted it and said, ‘You know what, this is better than most of the big places in Chicago,'” he said. “And she said, ‘You know what, we should try and open up a place ourselves.'”

Jack Danger's in Grand Rapids' Eastown. (Aug. 30, 2023)
Jack Danger’s in Grand Rapids’ Eastown. (Aug. 30, 2023)

Cathleen Lowenthal was born and raised in Rockford. She worked as an officer for the Grand Rapids Police Department before retiring after 28 years.

She worked in the restaurant’s area as an officer, she said.

“I love the community here,” she said. “… A lot of great people around here. We’ve had great reception getting to know people, and so I just want to be part of the community.”

Her daughter is now an officer with GRPD and patrols the same area.

“Serving is something that’s always been in my family, in my blood,” Cathleen Lowenthal said.

Other business owners in the area have been welcoming, they said, adding Brown Butter Crêperie and Café just down the street brought them some coffee.

The response from the community as they prepare to open has been “extremely upbeat,” Steven Lowenthal said. Around three weeks ago, they put up a neon sign with the restaurant’s name and logo, and they’ve seen several people stop to take a picture.

Jack Danger's in Grand Rapids' Eastown. (Aug. 30, 2023)
Jack Danger’s in Grand Rapids’ Eastown. (Aug. 30, 2023)

The logo is a cartoon caricature of Steven Lowenthal, drawn by a Chicago DJ in 1988. They plan to eventually offer T-Shirts and hats with the logo.

The couple will soon create a character with the name “Jack Danger” and a storyline. The character will have a dog, Sherman, named after the couple’s Jack Russell terrier. 

Cathleen and Steven Lowenthal have been working to renovate the location, which they said came to them on happenstance.

“We’ve done a lot of this ourselves. We’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into what we’re trying to do here,” Steven Lowenthal said.

When customers come in, they’ll be greeted by unique art on the walls, an old-school popcorn machine and TVs playing Chicago sports and music videos from the ’80s.

Jack Danger's in Grand Rapids' Eastown. (Aug. 30, 2023)
Jack Danger’s in Grand Rapids’ Eastown. (Aug. 30, 2023)

“You’ll be able to come in here and see videos that either you’ve never seen or haven’t seen in many years,” Steven Lowenthal said.

Their goal is to make people feel comfortable in the space.

Steven Lowenthal explained his approach to hospitality is helping guide people through an experience.

“You can have the best food in the world,” he said. “But if they’re not comfortable with the surroundings or the people there, what would make them want to come back? So that’s what we’re there to do, is to guide them through their Chicago experience at Jack Danger’s.”

While they’ve hit some challenges along the way, the restaurant came together in a short amount of time.

Steven Lowenthal said he’s striving to make Jack Danger’s “different and good.”

“I’m trying to bring a city that I love immensely to Grand Rapids,” he said.