City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Coffee, Fries, and Jam, Oh My!

Meet Jack and his Crew

Article by Libby Furns

Photography by Scott LeBaron

Originally published in Arvada Lifestyle

There is something very sexy about opportunity, quality, value, and community, which is precisely why John “Jack” Miller loves his restaurant, his family of employees, and the customers of Arvada. What started as a 300 square foot coffee shop in 2007 is now an expansive restaurant, bar and grill, bakery, jam producer, and catering company- on a mission to employ developmentally disabled individuals. 

Jack’s & Steamers celebrates diversity in their food and in their employees. Sticky cinnamon rolls, housemade green chile, hand cut fries, and whiskey peach jelly are just a few must-have items that keep customers happy. What keeps owner Jack happy? His employees: “I am so proud of all of them. Everyone who works here takes pride in the restaurant, pride in providing great customer service, pride in an incredible product, pride in a job well done, and pride in our mission. This in turn makes me proud of the restaurant in general - and that includes our customers. They also participate in our mission and support us each and every way!”

At one point, over sixty individuals with developmental disabilities were employed at Jack’s & Steamers, a dream that Jack and his wife Athan pursued for years. They now have a full commercial prep kitchen across the street to educate their workers, create opportunities, and maintain their diverse and inclusive family environment. To create a space that celebrates uniqueness, kindness, and diligence is something Jack takes very seriously:

“We strive to be a part of our community - so that we are the community and it is us - just like we depend on our community and it depends on us. We want to make personal connections with people and get to know their families.  We like to see our customer’s successes, their hardships and their happiness.  We love sharing our lives with our customers and getting to know their lives, too.  We hope the community sees that.”

Jack’s & Steamers was named Arvada’s Business of the Year in 2019, but Jack and his wife Athan know that they must continue to be great and to grow every day. They are so thankful for the way the Arvada community has embraced their vision and are always happy to see customers relaxing, chatting, laughing, and indulging- and coming back. These are the markers of success. 

From a very young age, Jack knew he wanted to be an Olympic ski racer; he grew up on the slopes of Steamboat, Colorado, and his mountain roots and competitive spirit are celebrated on the second floor of his restaurant. If you have an appreciation or love for the sport of skiing, you must step inside: the upstairs is akin to a museum. Featuring Olympic bibs, pictures and posters, and even a ski lift chair, the aesthetics are sure to impress, and the vibes are sure to make you feel cozy and welcome, just like the hometown feel of a mountain resort. 

In addition to the special atmosphere and delicious homemade food, you will always be surrounded by friendly, happy, hard-working people. When Jack, wife Athan, and friend and business partner Scott opened the coffee shop in 2007, no one had any experience in the coffee or the restaurant industry. Athan and Scott had plenty of experience working with people with developmental disabilities and the three of them were determined to make this unique model work. First, they learned to run a small coffee shop, then a larger one, and then a restaurant. Admittedly, there were plenty of hardships. From learning how to buy food, to designing a sustainable menu, to hiring experienced and trustworthy individuals - it was a slow process and many mistakes were made along the way. But they learned from those mistakes and surrounded themselves with incredible people who were great at their jobs and who also believed in the vision of employing a diverse crew.

Since reopening their dine-in services as a result of the impact of COVID-19, Jack’s & Steamers has increased their workforce and their sales, and are all “...putting in 150% effort to keep Jack’s afloat, including the staff with developmental disabilities. Jack’s is a big family and we are all supporting each other.”

Jack and his Arvada family are joyous and proud and continue to set goals for growth.

”Our goal is to train people with all types of disabilities to work in kitchens all over the Denver Metro area. We are so excited for this opportunity!”

Come and visit Jack’s & Steamers and experience the flavors of housemade favorites and the personal touches that are unrivaled. Jack invites you to be a part of this community and ultimately say, “I know Jack.” Tee shirts are available.