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Duluth Jalapeno Express: Closed

Walt Dizzo reports via Facebook today: “So bummed, best restaurant in town. RIP Jalapeno Express.”

Remember all the ranting and raving about the greatness of this place? What happened?

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42 Comment(s)

  1. That is very unfortunate. They had amazing customer service and were very quick. When I worked downtown, I walked by there a lot and saw really good crowd.

    erik_ote | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  2. It should’ve stayed open late on weekends.

    Hot Shot | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  3. I just tried to go down there and they are closed up. I had a $10 gift certificate. Anybody know if Mexico Lindo will honor those?

    Lawrence Lee | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  4. I second that, I have a Seize the Deal voucher. Their policy states that they have no special policy for businesses that have closed other than their standard return policy, which is 30 days money back and 31-90 days Seize the Deal bucks back (account credit). I would rather have had a couple burritos.

    Chris Bollman | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  5. NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

    That was actual Mexican food! Oh their barbacoa was so good! That makes me so sad!

    emilymoesewco | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  6. RIP Jalapeno Express. You will be missed!

    reymoore | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  7. They did know how to make a real taco. They’ll be missed. How they go under and Taco Bell and Taco Johns keeps plugging away is beyond me.

    Bret | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  8. Well, that sucks. I really thought they would last longer.

    Shane | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  9. Further, how B.U. stays open is beyond me, save for their post 9pm specials. Tempting it is to blame Norwegians once again, but I think this is rather a case of the shoddy biz Lindo has been throwing down with their fucky tortilla chips and whack service, flowing downhill, combined with Jalap’s bad location. But closing this soon?

    I was at Maya the other day and noticed they amped their burrito prices to well over ten bucks per, have a pricking happy hour restriction, and their meager amount of customers seemed apropos. Perhaps too, the “really” authentic Mexican atmosphere didn’t help them any, as the bubbling Horchata machine must simply be too random and foreboding for the local Scandinavian mindset.

    Herzog | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  10. After the series of restaurants have paraded in and out of that location over the last 10 or 20 years, it raises the question: Is that location cursed?

    …Much like the former Chinese Lantern building seems to doom every bar/restaurant that tries to give it a go in that location.

    Thoughts? Discuss:

    Tomasz | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  11. They have given up on putting restaurants at the old Chinese Lantern spot, so I think we can go ahead and say “cursed” and move right along on that one.

    As for ol’ 220 W. Superior St., the updated timeline of restaurants is as follows:

    Jalapeno Express — October 2011 to August 2012
    Maya Mexican Restaurant –- June 2010 to April 2011
    Grapevine –- 2008 to 2010
    Taj India –- 2005 to 2008
    My Buddy’s Place –- 2002 to 2005
    Mr. Nick’s –- 1998 to 2002
    Burger King –- 1996 to 1998
    Mr. Nick’s Famous Charburger -– 1970 to 1996

    In the past I was quick to defend this location and say it wasn’t doomed/cursed. I think I’ll shut up this time.

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  12. ¡Ay! ¡Qué lástima! We really, really tried to prop up their business by eating there once every other week after swim lessons at the YMCA! Our chiquitas will be bummed by this news…they really LOVED the food and the horchatas. And the staff was always so gracious to us! ¡Vaya con dios, Jalapeño Express!

    michellep | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  13. The horchata was amazing, the food was awesome.

    It’s insane that Burrito Union is open while this died; more insane that hundreds still whine for Chipotle while we lose this gem. | Aug 1, 2012 | New Comment
  14. I ate at Jalapeno Express once back in December and wasn’t impressed. A lot of people in this thread will be missing this place, but the original thread had some people speaking out about the food. For me they made a huge burrito, but the ingredients were sub par in quality. It will fill my gut, but didn’t leave me thinking “that was quality food made with care.” Maybe I am expecting too much for fast food.

    I really enjoy Burrito Union [Chipotle is even better] … mainly because their food tastes like it was made with fresh ingredients and love.

    toyota200x | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  15. What the hell? That SUCKS! Loved their tacos, their salads, the horchata. I don’t get it. Sad I hadn’t been there in a while. Sigh…

    Claire | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment

    I eat there twice a week! Son of a.

    The problem is parking, rent and not being open late enough or on the weekends. But that is a tough balance.

    I always felt they should have a window to RT’s where they served their food to bar patrons. That would have made them some money.

    Come back Jalapeno Express, just in a different location. The friendly West End has cheaper rent.

    Dorkus | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  17. Or maybe in the soon-to-be-former-Woodland-Middle-School building? They’re getting ready to go on that building, and a good, inexpensive, not-gross-Burrito-Union place would work really well.

    emmadogs | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  18. I always felt they should have a window to RT’s where they served their food to bar patrons.

    A window through the floor?

    Barrett Chase | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  19. Paul, I hate to do this, but…

    Actually, Mr. Nick’s first opened in 1970 by owner Nick Patronas as Mr. Nick’s Burger King. At some point Mr. Patronas struck a deal with Burger King, Inc.: by giving up the “burger king” name (which apparently he had before BK trademarked it), Patronas received exclusive rights for BKs in MN north of Hinckley — or at least so goes the popular story. I have been told that is the reason the Duluth Burger Kings often do not honor national promotions: Unlike the old BK advertising slogan’s promise to have it your way, Mr. Petronas runs his BK restaurants his way. Of course, I may just be repeating rumors…

    The building at 220 West Superior Street was home to restaurants long before Mr. Nick’s, and to find them one just need search the Duluth City Directories at the DPL. So the location wasn’t always the curse, but it is my theory that the development of the Mall area, which all but killed downtown retail, also doomed most eateries that not only relied on a business lunch crowd but on feeding shoppers as well.

    Meanwhile, here’s just a little history of the building, a draft of something Maryanne Norton and I are working on:

    Duluth Herald Building

    220 West Superior Street
    Architects: Oliver G. Traphagen & Francis W. Fitzpatrick
    Built: 1893

    Millie Bunnell built this three-story Neoclassical building to house his Duluth Herald. An evening newspaper, the Herald served Duluth from 1883 until 1982 when it was absorbed by the Duluth News Tribune (the two newspapers had merged in the 1930s). Built of tan brick, the building features limestone panels and a projecting metal cornice over letters spelling out THE HERALD. A 1996 remodeling faced the first floor exterior with stucco. In 1900 the Duluth Trunk Company leased the first floor, staying there until 1920. The newspaper moved out in 1902, and for much of the building’s history it has been occupied by cafés, including Mr. Nick’s Burger King — home of the Charburger — from 1970 to 2002 (including several years as a Burger King franchise). Its basement was the longtime home of the Mirror Lounge, now home to R. T. Quinlan’s.

    Tony D. | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  20. Thanks, Tony. It’s even more complicated than that. Nick Patronas’ father, George Nick Patronas, founded Nick’s Burger King in 1958 in the West End. The building burned down in 1970. That’s when the downtown Nick’s Burger King took its place.

    There were other locations as well. Andrew Krueger has a post about it in the News Tribune Attic — Mr. Nick’s, 1980.

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  21. Paul: it seems it’s always more complicated! And the 1958 reference makes more sense when you consider the whole “who-first-owned-the-name” question. Thanks!

    Tony D. | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  22. That Attic post indicates that the Patronas family actually opened Mr. Nick’s (with that same name?) in 1928. Anyone know more about that? Reading through the stories, I would assume it probably wasn’t at the West End location.

    Tom | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  23. Tom (Tom W.?): I’ll take a look through the city directories the next time I’m at the DPL for Mr. Nick’s and for businesses at 222 West Sup since Duluth Trunk left in 1922.

    Of course, someone could just call Nick P. and just ask him, I suppose…. Too bad none of us is both a journalist and a very nice man….

    Tony D. | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  24. I’m don’t know who Tom W. is, but he I am not.

    I have to get in the habit of going to the library to check out stuff like that. I’m always fascinated by local history and the people and businesses of Duluth’s past. I guess I’ve gotten so used to having information at my fingertips and not having to physically go anywhere to find stuff.

    Tom | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  25. I think the reference to 1928 in the Attic post might be a typo of “1958,” but I haven’t put any effort into confirming that. I have more important things to do today, like wandering around Spirit Valley Days and eating sandwiches, but eventually the truth will come out.

    Paul Lundgren | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  26. Paul, I was thinking that too at first. After all, the 5 is directly above the 2 on a keypad. However, it goes on to say that they were closed during World War II when the family couldn’t back from Greece. Anywho, be sure to be a parade troll and grab all the candy before the kids can get to it.

    Tom | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  27. There’s no accounting for taste:
    “I really enjoy Burrito Union [Chipotle is even better] … mainly because their food tastes like it was made with fresh ingredients and love.”

    Sad to see Jalapeno Express depart. The food was the best Mex in town (not saying a lot around here) with nice salsas.

    If the Swedish mafia were smart they’d partner up with the J. Express owners and bring that food up to the BU to replace the AWFUL food that they serve. I would love to drink Hoops’ beers coupled with the Express’ food.

    digit3 | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  28. Here here! Look what happens to bread when P3 Street uses Love as an ingredient. Works in their cookies though. The funniest Swede Mafia moment I had was a couple summers ago when these surfer guys came in off the deck at BU, and said,” Dude, neither me or my buddy ordered these blackberry steak burritos!” He was totally like, ‘WTF?’

    The late night taco specials at BU were recently very improved. Maybe it was a fluke? The kids seem to love it. I see more frat trash there every time I go. So that’s fun.

    Herzog | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  29. Wah!!! I ate at Jalapeno Express 2-3 times a week. I raved about it. It was the Mexi food I had been waiting for in Duluth forever. When the “curse” question arose, I told everyone to hush their mouths. I thought they had what it takes. The food was good, the price was right. But now I believe there must be some bad juju on the premises. I also presume it was a snap decision from the top, cause my new homies that worked there would’ve given me a minute to brace myself had they known. I guess it’s back to Lake St. for decent carnitas and green salsa. Boo.

    yoniohno | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  30. Herzog…I’m frequently there later in the evening. If you hit the rail after 11, most of the brodeo has gone home to their xboxes. | Aug 4, 2012 | New Comment
  31. Sad. We ate there 1-2 times a week.

    I’ll second all those who said their hours sucked. I think that place would have cleaned up had they stayed open late on weekends.

    There was a sign on the door a few weeks ago when I stopped by saying they wouldn’t be open on Saturdays anymore. I knew it was only a matter of time after that that they’d be gone for good.

    mat | Aug 6, 2012 | New Comment
  32. Chris, thanks for the tip on Seize the Deal. I contacted them this morning and they credited my account right away.

    Lawrence Lee | Aug 8, 2012 | New Comment
  33. First off, I want to thank everyone for the positive reviews and loyal patronage. I know a lot of people have ideas of what could have saved Jalapeño Express,one of them being open later on certain days. When we first opened we were open 6 days a week until 9 pm. We quickly realized that downtown Duluth was not busy what so ever at night, or on the weekends for that matter. We stayed open saturdays, basically to say we were open Saturday if that makes sense. Saturday was dead, a handful of people would wander in. It is a very tough location. We gave it our all and are very grateful for the loyal customers and friends we made.

    jala4lyfe | Aug 15, 2012 | New Comment
  34. Bummer. I had been so looking forward to lunch here on my visits/return. Please re-open somewhere else in town!

    ruby2sd4y | Aug 25, 2012 | New Comment
  35. Hmmmmm, bet that remodeled space on Woodland and St. Marie would be ideal for a burrito place. Since Lee Ann Chin’s has fallen out of the running it would be a location to consider. Lot’s of college kids near by who just happen to also go to the coffe shop, liquor stores and grocery store next door (not to mention the WF ATM), all hungry for some good mexican food. It could be a gold mine!

    Ruthie | Aug 27, 2012 | New Comment
  36. If anyone ordered the Living Social deal for Jalapeno Express (or any other place) and didn’t get credit, here’s a class-action lawsuit covering it.

    BadCat! | Nov 25, 2012 | New Comment
  37. By the way, there’s a sign in the window at the old Jalapeno Express indicating that Z’s Deli is moving in.

    Paul Lundgren | Nov 25, 2012 | New Comment
  38. Does that mean Z’s is moving out of the Holiday Center or is Z’s opening a second location?

    Claire | Nov 25, 2012 | New Comment
  39. I don’t know. I saw the sign a week ago and forgot about it until now.

    Paul Lundgren | Nov 25, 2012 | New Comment
  40. Z’s Deli in the Holiday Center closed over a year ago. Their website says that they had a location in the Saint Luke’s gift shop; I don’t know if it stayed open or not.

    Lithis | Dec 6, 2012 | New Comment
  41. I believe the deli at St. Luke’s was taken over by Valentini’s.

    Barrett Chase | Dec 6, 2012 | New Comment
  42. I believe the deli at St. Luke’s was taken over by Valentini’s.

    Barrett Chase | Dec 6, 2012 | New Comment

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