Luke and Heather Meyer, the friendly and caring owners of the warm and welcoming JT’s Corner Bar and Grill in Houston, truly know and care about their customers. When a customer doesn’t come in as usual, they check up on them. They’ve taken people to the doctor and found them housing options when necessary. After getting several calls from local businesses asking what the daily specials are, Luke started to fax the daily lunch specials to businesses on Sunday nights so they have the info at their fingertips.
Luke went into business with his father Tony 15 years ago; four years ago, Luke and Heather bought out Tony’s share and became the sole owners. Once they owned the bar and grill, they ended up making needed updates to all the equipment including coolers and refrigeration units.
When COVID caused the mandatory shutdown of the bar on March 17, 2020, Heather and Luke were actually at the hospital welcoming their third son, Arlo. At that time, Luke’s dad Tony was fighting stage 4 cancer and then later, COVID. One would think the couple would have thrown up their hands at all the challenges, but Luke and Heather, with their positive attitude and teamwork, just forged ahead. During COVID, Luke continued to come in and open the offsale portion of their bar four hours a day from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. They took advantage of the shutdown to redo the floors and lights behind the bar and in the back hallway. In addition, Luke, always concerned about his customers, made deliveries to homes. COVID’s biggest challenge for the couple was that they were not able to do what they were used to doing.
The employees are like family to Luke and Heather; some of them have worked there for 15 years. Luke felt bad that he wasn’t able to give his employees a definite answer about when they would be able to reopen, but all of the staff stayed with him and returned when they could reopen. Finding substitutes for workers at the bar is tough now; both Heather and Luke often need to step in and cover for absent employees.
JT’s is open from 10 a.m. – 1 a.m. (They sometimes close earlier if no customers are there on these cold winter nights.) Along with a salad bar and daily lunch specials, they offer an all-day steak fry on Wednesdays and a Friday night fish fry. Luke proudly pointed out that their burgers were voted best in Southeast Minnesota a few years ago.
They hope to update their menu soon and are toying with the idea of adding a new sandwich to their repertoire of sports themed burgers which include the Viking, Twins, Hurricanes, Lynx, and Wild.
A frozen drink machine and a Saturday special on Bloody Marys are customer favorites. Luke declared that customers most appreciate “the cold beer and warm food!” He noted that out of town customers often comment on how cold the beer is; he figures it’s because of that new replacement cooler.
Luke and Heather are very active members of HACS (Houston Area Cancer Society). They personally were touched by cancer when Luke’s dad Tony was diagnosed with stage 4cancer in 2019. Fortunately, Tony is doing well now; keeping a positive attitude was tough during COVID however.
JT’s donates to a lot of cancer auctions and benefits as well as to events for kids. Currently, they are trying to raise money to cover the expenses for Hoedown fireworks. They have run into a snag with their attempt to hold gun raffles. Since JT’s is not a nonprofit group, they aren’t able to get the necessary permit to hold such raffles. Luke enthused that the people of Houston are very willing to donate to the effort, however.
Luke and Heather spend as much time as possible with their kids and family. Heather has managed to squeeze in classes and will be graduating as a medical assistant soon. “I feel very fortunate; Luke always helps at home with cooking, laundry, whatever is needed. We just do it together,” Heather declared.
When asked what the city of Houston could do to help JT’s be successful, Luke responded that they just need to continue to be as supportive as they have been. He went on, “The businesses all work together with each other, lending supplies and help as needed.”
Luke has no regrets. “I don’t like to live with regrets,” he declared. “We’ve been very fortunate to have the support system we have — our families and our community.
Next time you need a cold beer and warm food, stop in at JT’s for a warm welcome; you won’t regret it!