J. J. KELLEY’S CELEBRATES 35 YEARS
By Carrie Steinweg published November 01, 2023
A longtime pub in Lansing is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. J.J. Kelley’s Restaurant & Pub was opened in 1988 by Vince and JoEllyn Kelley who are still operating the business. It has established a loyal customer base and draws in new customers all the time for their scratch-made meals, live music, Friday night specials, fundraising events, the baseball or football game of the day on TV and the gaming machines.
With a wall decked out in a digital camo design adorned with photos of local military veterans and active service members, it feels welcoming to veterans and their families, especially on the US Marine Corp birthday in November when they offer a free buffet to anyone who has served in the military, followed by a cake cutting ceremony.
The menu is a mash-up of the heritage of each owner - Vince comes from an Irish and Polish background and JoEllyn’s family is Lithuanian and Italian. Many of the recipes came from JoEllyn’s mother.
Customer favorites include the hand-sliced Reuben sandwich, fried fish, the Chicken Francese, the chicken wings, flatbreads, tacos, hand-battered fried shrimp, chopped salad, chicken soup and the hand-cut potato chips. There’s a new menu of specials each week.
Vince, who is a big music lover, started booking bands as soon as the business opened, many of them playing hard rock or metal music. One of the early bands to play at J.J. Kelley’s was a local quartet of guys who played original songs of the heavy metal genre. They went on to become the band Disturbed, which has sold more than 17 million records worldwide to date. They’re best known for their hit Down with the Sickness and an intense haunting rendition of the Simon and Garfunkel hit, The Sound of Silence, released in 2015. In appreciation of Vince’s role in helping the band, by offering a venue for their music when few bars would, the band gifted him with one of their framed gold records.
Live music of different styles still plays on weekends in colder months and for special events, like supper club nights and St. Patrick’s Day.
On Friday nights, they offer a rotation of elevated dinner entrees in the Clover Room that include prime rib and seafood with a soup and salad buffet - and sometimes dessert - included with your meal.
It’s a comfortable, reliable spot for a good meal and camaraderie that has kept customers coming back for 35 years. For more information and menu updates, follow on Facebook.