Dan Jacobs is the head chef and owner of JVR Hospitality Group, responsible for the success of acclaimed Milwaukee, WI restaurants DanDan and EsterEv. Jacobs and his partner Dan Van Rite opened DanDan in July 2016, bringing chef-driven Chinese food with a midwestern sensibility to Milwaukee. Shortly thereafter, the duo opened a fine dining restaurant and chef’s table tasting menu concept, EsterEv, inside DanDan.
In the same year as opening DanDan and EsterEv, Jacobs received life-changing news. He was diagnosed with Kennedy’s disease, a genetic neuromuscular ailment that’s often mistaken for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was running multiple standout restaurants with a disease that often makes simple tasks like walking up stairs or chopping an onion feel like a massive undertaking, and at the same time working to raise awareness through the creation of multiple charitable events in which funds went to support research.
Prior to opening DanDan, Jacobs was the executive chef at Odd Duck, where he garnered widespread media and consumer attention, and before that, he was head chef of Wolf Peach, which was awarded a number of accolades under Jacobs’ leadership.
Since Covid-19 took the world by storm in March 2020, Jacobs has taken a very active position in the fight to save the restaurant industry. He co-founded the Milwaukee Independent Restaurant Coalition and he holds a leadership position for the Independent Restaurant Coalition. He was a very prominent voice in urging the enactment of the Mask Mandate in Milwaukee and has been a very outspoken proponent of OFW for all service employees, working with local, state, and federal officials to get the support the hospitality industry needs. And finally, on December 2, 2020, Dan was chosen as one of four Americans to speak with President-elect Joe Biden to discuss the immediate relief needs for restaurants and their workers.
Awards & Accolades