By Jon-Paul Carfagnini
Brock University, Media Communications
This restaurant review covers Cracker Jacks Bar and Grill in Thorold.
As a trademark in Thorold for years the green sign above Cracker Jacks Bar and Grill was a local icon in the West Confederation subdivision.
When ownership changed in 2018, the old sign was replaced with lights, showing a new look for the local bar and grill. The illuminated sign represents a new, vibrant look for Cracker Jacks presenting a more comfortable vibe for visitors.
Since the owners of Johnny Rocco’s bought Cracker Jacks in 2018 the restaurateur made some noticeable changes.
Dining at Cracker Jacks today, we can see changes in the interior design. The new owners of Cracker Jacks have presented a new look that appeals to their target demographics. As a result, the eatery is a comfortable place for families to enjoy lunch or dinner.
A new menu has been created for Cracker Jacks customers to enjoy numerous additions while finding some of the favourite foods from the previous line-up. For starters, appetizers include Ravioli Bites, Calamari, Meatball Pops, and Quesadillas among other options to create a higher culinary vibe to the bar. Cracker Jacks also serves Perogies as a main dish. As a Canadian bar offering Poutine, Greek Wraps, Nachos, Spaghetti, and much more it is important that Cracker Jacks represents our nation’s mosaic culture.
We were told that a new pizza oven was recently installed, which might be a reason the hand stretched and freshly baked pies taste different these days. The pizza doesn’t come out as well done / over-cooked as before. This change could be why their pizza now tastes less crunchy and not as greasy as in the past.
Although Cracker Jacks has changed their menu, they still have their famous Buffalo Chicken Wing Pizza which is a local favourite.
Cracker Jacks offers the option of “Build Your Own Pizza” which is definitely tempting, but a hard option to choose opposed to their classics.
We hear that there were some changes to the chicken wings recipe after the ownership change at Cracker Jacks. However, on a recent tasting, it sure seemed like the cook used the classic Cracker Jacks sauce from the past. Perhaps the news owners have listened to their customers and CJ’s classic wings have made a comeback for us to enjoy.
From my personal experience, the customer service has improved under the new management. The service might not always be their best probably because the eatery can be super packed at peak times, which puts pressures on the operations. On our recent visits, however, the servers were friendlier than in the past, creating more comfort within the restaurant which is a necessity for strong customer relationships at local eateries.
It feels like there are more servers working at the restaurant opening up more room for customer interactions. This appears to create for more efficient service.
When our group was dining out recently at CJ’s, the food was served hot, and our glasses did not stay empty for long when patrons wanted to quench their thirst.
Although prices have slightly increased, it is worth it for an eventful experience. Under the new ownership Cracker Jacks has maintained their weekly traditions. On Wednesday nights the restaurant encourages their customers to participate in music trivia from 9.30 pm to 1.30 pm. On occasion, Cracker Jacks features a musician on Friday nights. On Saturdays, Cracker Jacks holds Karaoke Night giving everyone an opportunity to have fun on the mic.
Cracker Jacks has certainly stepped up the competition among local restaurants in Thorold, setting a new bar for the standards of dining out in the area. Furthermore the restaurant has been able to do so while maintaining the inclusive aspect of the restaurant that so many appreciate.
In conclusion, the remodelling of Cracker Jacks is certainly an enhancement to raise pride in our community. If the loyal customers of Cracker Jacks can just park all the sentimental traditions they enjoyed in the past, and shift forward with the changes, they should realize that this restaurant has been revitalized for a fabulous future.
There is more food to choose from, and it tastes better. The bar looks better than before. So, you can go there on a dinner date, partying with friends, or meeting business clients without worrying about bringing them to a dive bar. Although prices have been slightly increased, it is all about getting good value for spending a few extra dollars on a delicious meal to enjoy.
Yes, Cracker Jacks is showing us a bright sign of the times by offering customers a beautiful décor, delicious foods, and friendly service to retain its reputation as Thorold’s pride and joy for many years to come.
Go to Cracker Jacks website for more information on the restaurant.
For listings of other restaurants in Thorold, go to our business directory.