jackson hole closing
Photo by Michael Gantcher.

Jackson Hole, the burger joint and diner at 517 Columbus Avenue at 85th street, closed suddenly this week after 42 years.

jackson holePassersy-by gasped as they walked by Thursday morning and saw the sign and papered-over windows at the neighborhood mainstay.

Jackson Hole served everything from pancakes and omelettes to dozens of different kinds of burgers.

The person who answered the phone at the restaurant on Thursday did not answer questions.

Gregg K. told us a couple of weeks ago that he had heard from a server that this might happen.

“The whole thing seems odd, and I’m just assuming this is a rent thing considering they do a big delivery business and generally are pretty crowded. They recently started opening at 11 am as opposed to early in the mornings, but not sure that has to do with them potentially closing.”

Jackson Hole has four other locations around the city, and one in New Jersey.

jackson hole burger
A burger at Jackson Hole. Photo by Vincent Gallegos.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 63 comments | permalink
    1. WombatNYC says:

      They were fun , delicious and inventive for many years. Wondering if they are getting stung by all the burger joints out there now taking away some business

    2. 21D says:

      This is bad. Best sliders in the world aside, what is happening to Columbus Avenue, and, if it is the rents, how can we … in a capitalist society, can we even … stop it?

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        yes… we can have commercial rent regulation. Even in a capitalist society! don’t be brainwashed by the real estate industry.

        • 21D says:

          Who needs to step in? The Starbucks’ rent was mind-blowing!

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            Commercial rent regulation would have to be passed legislatively through the City Council.

    3. jeff Berger says:

      I thought something was going on. I got a cheeseburger delivered last month and it did not have the normal lettuce and tomato. On Monday I got a turkey club and there was no pickle and cole slaw. I thought they must be trying to save money. Now I see it was worse than that. Real shame. Now we no longer have a diner in the neighborhood.

    4. UWSmaven says:

      I live around the corner and enjoyed going there.. but I think their business was way off… they closed the adjacent Soup Stop some weeks ago, and their prices seemed to be skyrocketing well beyond what you’d expect at a diner… it rarely seemed crowded, and I think whatever the price/value balance was somehow got way off track…

    5. Tom says:

      We hate chains, right?

    6. dannyboy says:

      I’ll miss the pancakes.

    7. Abl54 says:

      Definitely an institution, but their food was actually quite mediocre. 400 different varieties of burger but each one always overcooked and bland.

      • adam says:

        They steamed their burgers! Not a fan of that style but sorry to see a long time neighborhood staple close.

        • Kindly Dr Dave says:

          No way steamed. Maybe you are mistaking the hood put over the grilled burger to melt the cheese? Come on, nobody but White Castle steams burgers!

          • adam says:

            They most definitely are steamed. While the metal dome does aid in melting the cheese it also causes the burger to be steamed; they use the dome even w/o cheese. Not saying it’s wrong, just being descriptive. Some folks like it, others don’t. Chacun son gout!

          • Jeff says:

            White Castle is fantastic! Can we petition to bring one to the Upper West Side?

    8. Kathleen says:

      Wow – this is a loss. While not the greatest food or atmosphere, Jackson Hole was a neighborhood staple for us and a reasonable place to pop in to for a classic diner meal. Definitely was a favorite for breakfast or brunch, when so many places have become absurdly crowded with long waits for simple things like eggs and toast and good fresh oj. I will miss the ease and simplicity.

      There’s been a lot of change in this area – I’m hopeful something reasonable and multi-purpose will replace it.

    9. tom says:

      Combo of Jacobs Pickles, E’s Bar and 5 Napkin Burger all within 2-3 blocks didn’t help biz. Plus burgers were grey!

    10. Mary says:

      I don’t believe they’ve been on that corner for 42 years. I moved to the neighborhood in 1978 and there was an after-hours club there. That was followed by a Korean restaurant. Jackson Hole has been there a long time, though, and will be missed.

    11. moi says:

      Sad although the last time I ate there I wasn’t impressed. Huge bun, straight out of the bag, not toasted or anything no whole-wheat option, very generic patties and very expensive.
      But again its sad when a long time business such as this is closing down. It reminds of Big Nicks who`m I still miss to this day.

      • Phil says:

        I moved to the UWS in 78 and I believe JH was on Cols, bet 86th and 85th, almost the same location for 42 years. So sad.
        Hope it is not a new ‘nail salon’…

        • Lunabee says:

          Yes. First location was between 85 and 86 across the street. A tiny store with counter stools upstairs and some tables in the basement. They moved across the street replacing and awful Chinese restaurant named House of Ma.

          • Asdis says:

            I remember that! There was a kid, a teen really, who was slinging the burgers back then, and it had about 3 seats. He did a great job too. House of Ma wasn’t the greatest (but better than New Kam Lai). I liked Ma though.

      • filatura says:

        Um, butbutbut — I ordered their grilled chicken salad for dinner last night (Wed., 6/8) via delivery.com, and it was the same as always – not a huge taste thrill but perfectly acceptable. It arrived in about 15 minutes so I don’t think it could have come from another branch. Given that they have been opening later in the day, maybe this is a “soft” closing?

    12. Andy says:

      Say it ain’t so! They have the best burgers.

    13. HELEN MURPHY says:


      • Steven says:

        You know, initially I did not agree with your point of view, but then the fact that it was stated in all capital letters convinced me.

    14. Sean says:

      Terrible, terrible food. It only served a purpose if you were hung over.

    15. Jerry says:

      I am amazed at the comments about wanting to control commercial rents. I am not an owner of any commercial buildings. I do not see stores and office buildings in the same category as rent controlled apartments, or landmarked buildings where the govt asserts a right to control what goes on. The owners of commercial buildings have the unfettered right to charge whatever rent they want, and if they are above market no one is forced to rent their space, and if they want to keep it vacant until they get the price they want then that is their option. That means that renters of commercial space may have to close or move to a new location if they don’t want to pay the rent that is set when their lease expires. I see this as no different from the local cleaner being able to charge any price they want when I bring in my clothes for cleaning, and if I don’t like it I can take my clothes elsewhere for cleaning. The same when I want to buy a car — if the Cadillac costs too much, I can go to another dealer and buy a Chevy. Just because your favorite hamburger joint closes and even if it is because the rent has become too high, that is not a reason to propose turning our whole society topsy turvy. Just go to another joint, or even better, patronize our local butcher shop and just cook your own!

      • dannyboy says:

        But commercial real estate is different than choosing your dry cleaner or car dealer. This restaurant invested in the space. It built a business by developing its reputation. Just the the landlord steps up his monthly take and it’s pay-up or your outta’ business.

        No need for commercial rent regulation?

        How about all the people dragged along too?

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        commerical rent regulation is not “turning the society topsy turvy.” the “unfettered’ right to charge what they want no more exists for commercial spaces than it does for residential spaces.

        if we can regulate residential rents, why can’t we regulate commercial rents? I believe it is already done, in one form or another, in large cities all over the world… including in London. (I believe there is a form of mandated rent arbitration there.) The last time i looked, the UK was still capitalist.

        there are many creative ways to do it.

        having throving commercial districts with small businesses is a public good. thus commercial rent regulation is justifiable, and would be in the public interest.

        don’t worry about the landlords too much. they will still make lots of money.

        • Woody says:

          I think the U.K. eliminated the mortgage interest deduction on private homes. Do we want to follow their lead on something like that since they’re so adept at regulating commercial real estate?Cherry-picking is alive and well.

      • Asdis says:

        I don’t agree that commercial rents need to be controlled. They need to have the tax perks taken away, they don’t need them.

        Hey if some new business chooses to pay 2 years rent in advance as security plus rents approaching $100,000 a month, that’s their prerogative. But that’s also why so many businesses come and go, they can’t make the rent.

      • Kyle says:

        Funny, a number of cities and towns across the country would disagree with your unfettered view of property rights. From Maine to Alaska there are thousands of communities that regulate the usage of personal property whether it be in the form of zoning regulations to graffiti removal to mandating that grass doesn’t grow above a certain height so what makes you think that looking to mitigate the “externalities” associated with vacant commercial units is somehow this egregious overreach on the part of the community?
        Nobody here is disputing the right to personal property. We are, however, suggesting that the community need not – and should not – be held hostage by an individual who just so happens to have the fortune of owning property in New York City and feels as though his interests should supersede the interests of thousands of people. He or she is welcome to earn a profit but within the guidelines set forth by the community – this is no different than a property owner on Long Island who *could* profit immensely from building a beachfront skyscraper but is restricted from doing so because of zoning ordinances.

    16. Geno B. says:

      Always amazed that this place was in business at all.
      Burgers should pass a high bar in New York.
      Jackson Hole didn’t.

    17. mG says:

      Good riddance! their burgers were simply awful. Probably ok by the standards of 42 years ago pre- shake shack, 5 Napkin etc – but they’ve been outclassed for years.

      • Cato says:

        Shake Shack and 5 Napkin Burger (also known as “15-buck-a-burger”) are overrated and overpriced. Plus, their stores are loud, crowded and just not pleasant.

        A good burger is a good lump of good meat, well cooked and well dressed.

        Some of us still do not have pretensions to needing “gourmet” everything. The glitzy burgers to which you refer are, in my opinion, the edible equivalent of the Emperor’s New Clothes. I’d rather have a good burger in a nice place than a glitzy one in a mob scene.

        I recognize that I may well be in the minority. Indeed, it may well be that the diminishing numbers of those sharing my view reflects the demise of first Big Nick’s and now Jackson Hole.

    18. Finnegan says:

      Sad that they had to close, but you need more than a name to stay in business. Others have mentioned the steamed, grey, crumbly burgers.

      The fact is it’s nearly impossible to muck up a good burger, but Jackson Hole managed to do so. They were complacent in the presence of increased competition and simply lost their way.

    19. KB says:

      never liked the burgers … but LOVED the breakfast!!!

      will be missed

    20. bob says:

      Jennifer Aniston must be mourning… I always thought their burgers were mediocre (though huge), and the burger buns were terrible.

      • UWSider for too many years to remember says:

        What does Jennifer Aniston have to do with this?

    21. Hambone says:

      A small lesson/input on commercial costs: yes starbucks rent was insane. Of course if someone is willing to pay it you should take it. There is another side to this though. Building costs have skyrocketed in the last 10 years. Property tax has soared, and there is local law 11 and now local law 87. We are on our third round of local law 11. The first two rounds we had minimal as can be expected costs – minor repairs and a shed. Still that ran $75,000 each time. This third time we have $1M in repairs! I don’t know how buildings in lesser zip codes are doing it but it is onerous. Local Law 87 (green initiatives) ran 50K for the survey alone. These costs are there for a reason but are ultimately born by the lessee since the lessor is a for profit entity and not a social charity.

      Let’s get into cement. NYC is the only place i know of that the city of NY can demand that you fix THEIR property. That is insane.

      • A lifelong UWSider says:

        Pieces of buildings fell on people and killed them. That’s why we have Local Law 11. BTW, I was there when a chunk of a building at 80th & Columbus killed someone about 30 years ago. It was positively gruesome! If we didn’t have such laws, there would undoubtedly be many, many more chunks of crumbling building facades hitting the sidewalks and pedestrians.

        • Woody says:

          Every building has been inspected and repaired at least once with many long-term issues eliminated. It’s safe to say that the crumbling facade problems have been mitigated to a large extent. It’s time to relax those laws a bit and lengthen the time between inspections.

          • UWS Dude says:

            Local Law 11 inspections are required every 10 years. IMO that’s already too long. Have you ever witnessed a neighbor killed by a piece of a building? I’m generally anti-government regulation, but when lives are on the line due to old high rises getting corroded by acid rain, snow and ice, thank God these albatrosses are required to be inspected and rehabbed at least once every ten years! Anyone is crazy to think otherwise!

      • nyc taxpayer says:

        That building (listed as 519 Columbus in property records) is paying $550k/year in NYC property taxes. And you ask why rents are high.

    22. Clifford says:

      Not all Jackson Hole locations are created equally, and that one sucked. So long- better off with another Duane Reade.

    23. Hy Cohen says:

      Aw, c’mon, say it isn’t so! Did Trump have anything to do with this?

    24. jill says:

      the west side is dying.

    25. I was looking forward to visiting Jackson Hole after passing it so many times 🙁

    26. Carrie says:

      I am appalled at the number of empty storefronts on Broadway and other avenues of the UWS: evidently extreme rent raises are the cause of all these closures.

      We (New Yorkers) need to change whatever tax incentives and laws and practices make it more profitable for an owner or landlord to carry an empty storefront for months if not years than to lower these extreme rent increases that are forcing people out. How come it’s profitable to keep a storefront empty for so long? Something is wrong with the reward system to landlords.

    27. local yokel says:

      Does anyone know what the heck the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement does? Or, what the heck the Amsterdam Bid does to address this issue? BID’s are run by landlords. So, this doesn’t help the cause of so many small businesses closing. Their boards consist of reps from Stringers office and we all know Stringer has been a failure addressing this issue as an Assembly Member, a Borough President and now comptroller.

      Please also note the fabulous Rosalie jewerly store is also closing.

      • Adam says:

        There is no issue. This is a failed business. The place was empty!

        The area around this restaurant has improved greatly over the last decade or so. There are countless new restaurants thriving in the area that weren’t there 10 years ago. This restaurant was not some gem. It was charging high prices for terrible food. There is a reason there would only be 2 or 3 tables on a Friday night on a big corner property like this.

        Every time any businesses close there is a contingent of people who automatically cry about landlord greed regardless of the facts. It’s really absurd.

        • UWSmaven says:

          I agree with Adam/Steve– they tried half-heartedly to lower their prices at lunch with some lunch specials… but take a look at City Diner and 82nd Street Cafe… they seem to be thriving at all hours, with better food. I think landlord greed AND badly run businesses are not mutually exclusive… the landlord greed just has lowered the threshold for survival.

    28. WQuincy says:

      I have lived around the corner for 31 one years and frequented Jackson Hole often. You could always count on a decent meal and a smile and friendly greeting fro the “family…” Another institution is gone and will be missed…
      RIP Jackson Hole UWS

    29. Paul RL says:

      I will always taste the memories.

    30. Ascis says:

      Because most of their business came from Seamless, Eat, etc. I understand they lost their lease, which makes sense since their debut at location would fit such a timeline.

    31. Melissa says:

      It looks like they were the ones to dump a rusty stove and other kitchen supplies on the tree bed in front of them on the Columbus Avenue bike path pedestrian island. Really obnoxious way to leave the neighborhood. I called 311 to have it removed by sanitation, but a total eyesore and lack of care about the tree and the neighborhood that supported their biz all these decades.

    32. Damn. I really liked that place. Another restaurant for the Everyman will be replaced by a restaurant for the Elite.