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St. Clair Shores

September 18, 2013

Restaurant takes to Facebook, Twitter to launch new concept

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Who is Captain Jack?

If you know the answer, you may have seen the Captain’s card around town, or on Facebook and Twitter, where a social media marketing campaign has taken off.

That story centers on a fictional rum runner, a former Navy captain named Jack Linkur, who in early 1920 transported cases of whiskey from Canada across the Detroit River with a fleet of carry boats, scouts, gunners and decoys, right into a boathouse along the shores of Lake St. Clair in St. Clair Shores.

The details — which tell the tale of Captain Jack’s fleet eventually being hijacked on Oct. 31, 1924, with the Captain to never be seen again — are based in reality, said Patrick O’Sullivan, the acting general manager of Captain Jack’s Lakefront Bar and Grill, which will take over the spot occupied by Rojo Mexican Bistro at 24026 Jefferson Ave. on Sept. 26.

The restaurant will be owned by Dan Linnen, who also owns the Rojo Mexican Bistro locations, but O’Sullivan said they were hoping to bring a little more of a local flavor and history to the eatery.

“They used to actually run booze, during prohibition, right into the building (the restaurant occupies),” he said. “You used to be able to run a boat right into the basement, and they would run liquor in there during prohibition.

“It’s an interesting part of the history that nobody knows about.”

In order to spark interest in the restaurant in advance of opening, O’Sullivan said they started a Facebook page and a Twitter account for Captain Jack, then began scattering cards with the question “Have you seen Captain Jack?” around town.

The social media campaign, he said, has “kind of taken off on its own.”

“We basically just started posting funny things about Captain Jack, photos of places where people have found (the black business card, and) we’ve had a pretty awesome response of people where they’ve found the flyer or posting things about Captain Jack here and there,” O’Sullivan said.

He said they were trying to capture a younger audience with the social media campaign and also have a great story behind the eatery.

“Facts tell but stories sell, so I wanted to have a good story behind it,” he said.

Captain Jack’s operations manager, Ray Kurmas, said using Facebook and Twitter was key to getting younger patrons, he said.

“The social media, for the most part, it plays a big part in the promoting it,” he said. “Getting people to talk and the demographic it goes after. We’re targeting the locals; we’re targeting promoters.”

The story behind Captain Jack started as a joke, Kurmas said.

“Then, who is Captain Jack and where is Captain Jack? The whole concept is based on people who used to run liquor. There’s a little bit of mystery involved,” he said.

And that was the point. Kurmas said they wanted people in the area to know something was coming but not to know exactly what.

“Nobody’s going to know who Captain Jack is or what he looks like,” he said. “The local history of this building is where we started. This thing has been a few places, and we’re going back to its roots.”

O’Sullivan said they plan to have plenty of TVs in the restaurant and focus on signature burgers, sandwiches, cod and salmon, fried chicken, and “really good fish and chips,” along with an extensive beer list.

Since “Captain Jack always loved happy hour,” it will be that time from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, all day on Thursdays and after 9 p.m. every day, as well.

“We want to get people in here,” O’Sullivan said. “People these days are really focused on saving money, and we want to focus on doing that.”

The Rojo’s restaurant is being remodeled during the time between its closing and Captain Jack’s Lakefront Bar and Grill’s opening. Rojo has been open in that location almost three years. Prior to that, it was Andiamo Lakefront Bistro.

“The market demands a more well-rounded menu, and we want to appeal more to the community we have here,” O’Sullivan said.

Kurmas said they wanted a casual and fun restaurant to appeal to residents and boaters, as well.

“We’re going to be one of the few places on a marina here that cater to the guests all year round,” he said.

The restaurant will have its main bar and grill on the first floor, with the bar dining area, outdoor patio and deck with a fire pit on the second floor. The second floor will be for those 21 years and older on weekends.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/CaptainJacksLakefront or twitter.com/WhoisCaptJack.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.