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Eats of the Week | Jack Russell Fish Co.

Eats of the Week | Jack Russell Fish Co. offers familiar favorites and a great atmosphere

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Jason and Erin Bennett own and operate Jack Russell Fish Co. in downtown Benton, which will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Jason Bennett called the atmosphere in Jack Russell Fish Co. “a little bit of Florida.” He pointed to the variety of colors on the walls and the beach scenes which give the Benton restaurant a tropical, outdoor feel.

Yet, there is a lot of Southern Illinois in the business too, beginning with Jack Russell Fish Co.’s signature sandwich – the same one enjoyed by hungry coal miners at Tom Raymond’s Tavern in Sesser more than 50 years ago.

It’s the sandwich Bennett’s father-in-law, John “Jack” Russell Moore, served when he began the restaurant two decades ago, carefully following instructions from Tom Raymond’s son-in-law Pete about how to prepare and serve the tavern favorite. Moore’s telling of the legend remains on the Jack Russell Fish Co.’s website.

“You’ve got to fix the fish the same way every time using our special breading, the hamburger dill pickles, the onion slices, the fresh white bread,” Moore’s telling of Pete’s instructions continued. “He said that some people want tartar sauce, but they must use our special ‘top secret’ ketchup to make it a real Old Tavern Fish Sandwich.”


The Jack Russell Fish Co. brings a Florida vibe to downtown Benton.

The menu at Jack Russell Fish Co. goes far beyond the still-popular sandwich, however. Bennett and his wife Erin have expanded offerings since purchasing the business from Moore about five years ago. Crab legs, peel-and-eat gulf shrimp, catfish dinners, fish tacos and clams are among seafood items on the menu along with steaks, salads, soup and grilled chicken.

Bennett said the restaurant’s chicken wings – a Wednesday special – are especially popular as well.

“We try to accommodate for all varieties of life, whether you like fish or not,” he said.

In keeping with the casual theme, the restaurant often features live music on the patio as well as a full bar and a family-friendly atmosphere. It has become the kind of place that appeals to generations.

“Erin’s Dad had a big following when he had the restaurant and we’re kind our bringing in our generation,” Bennett said. “We’re seeing all of the 30- or 40-somethings and they’re bringing in their kids. It’s fun.”

Jack Russell Fish Co. is open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.-9 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Saturdays at 106 E. Main Street in Benton.

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