On a street that’s lined with bars in a neighborhood known for its number of bars, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. Yet, Jimmy’s Bar and Lounge, 1828 4th St NE, did just that. And it was all because of Jimmy.
James “Jimmy” Haracz passed away May 18, just five months after retiring from the business he started in 1985. He was 79.
Born April 9, 1940, he was a Northeast kid, the son of Frank and Helen Haracz. He attended grade school at Holy Cross, where he also served as an altar boy, and graduated from De LaSalle High School. He married his wife, Karen, at Holy Cross in 1963.
He got his start at Jax Café. “He spent his entire working life in Northeast,” said his son, James (JJ). “Everything he did was in Northeast.” He was a member of the Goldbricks Club, the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, the Northeast Lions, and the Minnesota 100 Club (a relief organization for first responders). He worked at Emrich Baking for 13 years before starting his eponymous bar.
Jimmy greeted everyone who entered his establishment with a smile and a warm hello. “That’s one of the things he taught me,” said JJ. “Make sure everyone gets a drink, and say hello and goodbye.”
Haracz will also be remembered for his White Castle hamburger Sunday “brunches.” “We used to stop and get some on our way to the bar on Sundays to eat while we set up,” said JJ. “Then we bought a few more bags to share with customers.” Before long, Jimmy had a standing order for 110 burgers every Sunday. He bought them all at the regular price and served them free of charge, with pickles and other condiments on the side. By 2008, according to a CityPages article, he had purchased more than 120,000 “sliders.”
White Castle took notice and flew Jimmy and Karen out to their headquarters in Ohio, where he was given a tour and inducted into the company’s Hall of Fame. The Haraczs were “quite impressed,” said JJ.
Jimmy was an avid fisherman, going out for salmon once or twice a year, visiting the Arctic Circle for grayling, and taking fly-in trips to Canada. “This was the first trip he missed in 30 years,” his son said.
JJ said the family has been touched by the outpouring of sympathy following his father’s death. “One person said he was the King of Fourth Street. I guess he was.”
Haracz is survived by his wife, Karen; children, Tracy Heller, James Haracz, Kris (Kenton) Scherer, and Jeanne (JD) Massey; 10 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren (an eighth is on the way).
A memorial mass was held May 24 at Holy Cross.
Below: Jimmy Haracz (Family photo)