Tribute to Mark Jug

13
159

September 5, 2020 – West Bend, WI – It is with a heavy heart to relay the news that Mark Jug, 67, founder of MJ Stevens Pub & Restaurant and founder of McJugger’s Saloon & Grill, has died.

Jug passed Friday night at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. Tributes are below with many comments received referring to Mark Jug as “legend.”

Mark Jug
Photo courtesy Jason Jug

 

Doreen Laatsch works at Jug’s and got her first job at MJ Stevens. She said the news spread quickly Friday night as staff at Jug’s Hitching Post in Kohlsville was told of his passing.

“He was amazing, wonderful, and he loved everybody he employed,” said Laatsch. “He wanted everybody to enjoy a good meal and enjoy life. In his new bar in Dundee, McJuggers, he had a stained glass made and it was written in Italian ‘In beer there is truth’ and he was so proud of that and he said that a lot.”

Mark Jug
Photo courtesy Jason Jug

Laatsch met Mark Jug in 1989 when she first went to MJ Stevens for a fish fry.

“Isn’t it ironic that he passed away on a fish fry Friday,” she said. “It’s also Labor Day weekend; he employed so many and he passed away on Labor Day weekend.”

Laatsch said Mark Jug always offered a place where people could come and rest their burdens.

“He was proud of his food and if you didn’t like something he made sure you liked it,” she said. “He touched so many lives and so many people were crying last night when Jason called and told us.

“The college kids grew up in this restaurant. They’d go away to school and then when they came home they would have their job back,” said Laatsch. “It’s like we were all his children.”

Mark Jug
Photo courtesy Jason Jug

Jug had been hospitalized since mid-August. He had been planning to open McJugger’s Saloon in Dundee.

In February 2018 Mark Jug sold MJ Stevens. He said at the time…

 

“You know I feel it was time to go a little smaller,” he said. “I’ve worked 32 years here.”

It was 1979 when Jug took over the Long Branch in Barton. In 1985 he took over the bar that ran alongside then Highway 41. “It was called the Timber Inn,” he said. Owners were John Kreilkamp and Harold Hefter.

Photo courtesy MJ Stevens

“I leased it from them for three years and then I bought it,” said Jug.

Over three decades there were plenty of memorable moments at MJ Stevens. “We had two New Year’s Eves in a row that we got hit with snow storms and we lost both those nights,” said Jug.

If that wasn’t bad enough… “We also had two Father’s Days in a row and some guy hit a pole and knocked all of our electricity out and then the next year Mother Nature hit something electrical again and down we went that year too,” he said. “How the hell does that happen?”

Over the years the “traditional pub-style restaurant with an old-world traditional flavor” grew in popularity. Neighbors would wait an hour for a Friday fish fry, prime rib or Sunday brunch. The time would pass swiftly with a Bloody Mary at the bar or a traditional Old Fashioned.

Jug credits his 80 employees for making the business a success. During a recent Christmas party he made a list of all his long-time employees and read it aloud.

“When we started here it was just Brian the bartender, Manny, who is still with me, he was the server and I did the cooking and dishes,” said Jug. “The first Friday we sold 25 pounds of fish and I was so happy. Now we do 600 – 700 pounds.”

After a heavy pause Jug admitted he had been thinking about selling the business for a while. “It’s a big place; big operation,” he said. “I’m going to do something… it’s going to be hard to let go here.”

Mark Jug

Scott Ritger is with the Slinger-Allenton Rotary.

“Mark was a one of a kind, a very thoughtful man who never forgot someone once he meet them. Our Slinger-Allenton Rotary club meetings were graciously hosted by Mark and his staff at MJ’s for more than 10 years already when I joined the group back in 2014.

The day of my induction ceremony Mark took time out of his busy day to attend, and was standing in the back of the room the entire time. As the ceremony wrapped up he came up to me and said whenever you stop in here next, you come find me and the first drink is on me while you tell me about your goals for this incredible club.

Every time since then when we stopped in for lunch or dinner at MJ’s, if Mark was there and spotted me, the first drink was already waiting.

Mark leaves behind an incredible legacy that will far outlive him. He was a dedicated man of his word and always made sure everyone was taken care of and happy. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who can fill Mark Jug’s shoes.”

John Fritsch:

“Hearing of the passing of Mark Jug is a sad time. He was a great person who cared and always said hi to you. Whether he knew you or not. He welcomed you to his restaurant like you were part of his family. I had a couple of his children in my classes when I was teaching. His kids were just like him, always polite and had a smile on their faces. He will be missed by all. He would put out his hand to shake when he came by your table or walking in his place. His food and service were 5 star service every time you went to eat at M.J. Stevens. Prayers and thoughts go out the family of Mark as well to all his former and current employees were also part of his family. Thank you Mark for years of service and knowing you. You will be missed ALL.”

Bob Bonenfant was a frequent visitor to MJ Stevens.

“He was successful at whatever endeavor he attempted. If you were around here anytime over the past 40 years you either had a drink or something to eat at one of his places. He was a very nice guy.”

Rick Taetsch:

“Mark, rest in peace, fantastic human being, the world will miss you, your kindness, caring, thoughtfulness, and deep laugh will live forever in our memories..
He provided so much joy in his personality, he enjoyed an adult beverage with his friends,
Loved his families, great businessman, heck of a restaurant owner, gave back to the community,
Made strong lasting relationships..
Mark enjoy story time with Brain. “Absolutely superb “

Randy Geier has been a friend of Mark Jugs for the last 30+ years.

“My wife,Dawn , worked for him for 30 years at MJs and I for the last 22 years. He was just the nicest, decent , most caring person I’ve ever met. It was a pleasure to work for him, because with Mark you weren’t just an employee, you were family.
He truly cared deeply about his customers and that they have a great dining experience at MJs because with Mark the customer always came first. The things Mark did out of the public eye, the people and families he’s helped are a testament to the big giving heart he had. He will be missed by so many people.”

Mark Jug and Randy Geier
Photo courtesy Jason Jug

Funeral details will be posted when information becomes available.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Heaven has gained a special person. Mark has been a family friend for many years. He was a good man, gone to soon. Always there with a wonderful smile and a kind word whenever we’d see him. We will miss him. We love you Mark ❤ RIP

  2. Mark, rest in piece, fantastic human being, the world will miss you, your kindness, caring, thoughtfulness, and deep laugh will live for ever in our memories..
    He provided so much joy in his personality, he enjoyed an adult beverage with his friends,
    Loved his families, great businessman, heck of a restaurant owner, gave back to the community,
    Made strong lasting relationships..
    Mark enjoy story time with Brain. “Absolutely superb “

  3. Hearing of the passing of Mark Jug is a sad time. He was a great person who cared and always said hi to you. Whether he knew you or not. He welcomed you to his restaurant like you were part of his family. I had a couple of his children in my classes when I was teaching. His kids were just like him, always polite and had a smile on their faces. He will be missed by all. He would put out his hand to shake when he came by your table or walking in his place. His food and service were 5 star service every time you went to eat at M.J. Stevens. Prayers and thoughts go out the family of Mark as well to all his former and current employees were also part of his family. Thank you Mark for years of service and knowing you. You will be missed ALL.

  4. Mark will be dearly be missed. What a legand. We do market in Dundee. Every market was talk and people waiting for Mark to open his business. The Bogus he had to go through to open. Now he passed. Hoping someone opens in honor of Mark. We’re waiting for great food close by… Rip Mark!!

  5. I’m so sorry Natasha and Jason! Quinn enjoyed working with you Natasha, and Mark, putting together McJuggers, especially putting the menu together!! You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers!!

  6. R. I. P. Mark. You are a legend among many. Thank for your support of the Slingers High School band program with Jazz Fest and much more. God truly blessed us with you 💕 in our lives.

  7. Mark was an amazing man with a huge heart and touched everyone he met! He was a great friend of our family and treated us all as family. I worked at MJ Stevens as a youngster as did my oldest daughter. We learned many life lessons from Mark, the best of which was how to treat everyone as if they are the most important person in the room. Mark will be missed by many and his life legacy will have profound effects on the lives of many!! So long for now my friend!

  8. Mark was a great friend and it is really hard to believe he is gone. His spirit will always be with any of us who knew him. I have a million memories of working there, partying there, and just hanging out with Mark, Manny, and the gang! Mark you will be missed, but never forgotten. Thanks for the Memories! To Jason and the whole Jug family my thoughts and prayers are with you! God Bless all of You!!

  9. A dear and most fantastic man and boss I have ever had in all my years in the restaurant industry. I never thought I would be hired because of my age but Mark an Randy saw beyond that. It was very family oriented and Mark definitely treated you as family. Even if you had a problem Mark would take you on the side and talk to you and made a person feel so much better, needless to say again as all others have said he will definitely be missed so much. And God took a great man. Prayers to his lovely wife and family.

  10. I am just so sad that we lost Mark, I just saw him at his house always with a big smile, he was such a great man with a huge heart!
    He was so nice and thoughtful, living next to him for 10 years with a lot of laughs and even running a sandwich out to me as I cut his lawn! He will be greatly missed and I send prayers to all of his family.

  11. I met Mark at the Albert Sky Lounge in Milwaukee, ( around 1966 ) which I was told was his uncle’s place. He became my first boyfriend, we were 14 years old lol. I visited his parents place in Menomonee Falls, The Jugs Supper Club. There I watched Mark make huge tubs of coleslaw for the Friday night fish fries. Like most 14 year olds we found other love interests. I met my future husband just before my 16th birthday. Mark and I reconnected at MJ Stevens years later, and our children became friends. We have been to his son Jason’s place. The news of Mark’s passing has deeply saddened me. Mark is a one-of-a-kind soul, and will truly be missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.

  12. I worked for Mark Jug for about 3 yrs. baking all the dessert goodies for Sunday brunch. I loved working there, as Mark and all my co-workers were wonderful. Mark always appreciated all his employees so much. He always greeted everybody and made you feel welcome. He was a wonderful man.

Leave a Reply