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Back Story

Homage to Harry Johnson & Jerry Thomas

  • The true beginnings of the craft of designing and mixing drinks emerged in the early 1800’s. By the end of that century bartenders were seen as celebrated members of the community.
  • Little Jumbo Restaurant & Bar is inspired by two rivals, Jerry Thomas the “father of American mixology” and Harry Johnson the "the father of professional bar-tending" and a famous bar and hotel consultant.
  • In 1877 Johnson bought and renamed the bar where Thomas had worked in Soho, New York calling it the Little Jumbo Saloon. With his international expertise in hospitality, it became a huge success.
  • Johnson’s peer and rival named Jerry Thomas is still recognized for his pioneering work in popularizing cocktails across the United States. Thomas  wrote seminal work on cocktails. His creativity and showmanship established the image of the bartender as a creative professional. As such, he was often nicknamed 'Professor' Jerry Thomas.
  • Johnson, a pioneer of the industry travelled widely and sharing his acquired wisdom, expertise and knowledge with others. In 1882 Harry Johnson first published the Bartenders’ Manual and a Guide for Hotels and Restaurants. He is still known today for his sagacious writings on service excellence and customer care. Harry Johnson saw to it that bar and restaurant staff were well-versed and skilled professionals as their partnering chefs were; all working long, hard apprenticeships.
  • Our Little Jumbo emphasizes the fine craft of preparing fresh local food with a focus on continental and contemporary, and pairing it with fine wines and the best of classic and modern mixology. A particular emphasis at Little Jumbo is on creating exceptional customer experience, something very dear to Harry Johnson’s heart.
  • Executive Chef

    • Gabriel Fayerman-Hansen
  • Owner

    • Bruce Gillespie
  • Restaurant Designer

    • Sara Baxter (Live by Design)
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