In 1997, Diane Halverson took over ownership of Jake’s Pizza in St. James.

She purchased it from her dad, Vern “Sarge” Carstensen, who had owned it since it opened in 1978.

The pizza, soup and sandwich restaurant in St. James is a sister site to the Jake’s Pizza that is located in Mankato which was opened by the family in 1976. That location is owned by Halverson’s sister and her family.

“I started working in Mankato when I was 15,” said Diane, adding she has been part of the family business since.

Yes, she added, it was always the plan for her to take over the St. James shop when her dad opted to retire, and she has enjoyed the chance to be part of Jake’s for most of her life.

While Jake’s Pizza offers traditional fare what makes it unique are the secret recipes handed down in the family from the Rose and Ernie Jacobson family, which opened the first Jake’s Pizza in 1964 in Albert Lea. Naturally, the name Jake’s comes from the Jacobson family nomenclature.

“All of the recipes are my aunt’s,” said Diane.

Known for its pizza, Jake’s also offer a variety of options from calzones and pasta to sandwiches, soups and appetizers.

Jake’s Pizza in St. James is open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The restaurant is also open Sundays from 4-9 p.m.

Halverson said she employs 18 people at Jake’s Pizza, with one full-time day manager. Halverson said she takes on much of the management at night.

There are a number of speciality pizzas on the menu, with traditional toppings also available to order for one’s own favorite pizza style. While anchovies are not on the menu, Halverson said with a smile if someone brings them in she will put them on a pizza.

A variety of crusts are also available from thin to thick, as well as a whole wheat crust made from scratch. Much of what people order is made from scratch at Jake’s Pizza, said Halverson, adding she also likes to buy local ingredients whenever it is possible.

“I want to support local people when I can,” she said.

The crust also comes in a gluten free option, added Halverson.

Yes, said Diane, she does like to eat pizza, adding one of her favorites is known as Sarge’s Special named after her dad.

Delivery is an option in the city limits of St. James, said Halverson.

Customers may also order online at jakespizzastjames.com where one can find a full menu.

The restaurant is also available for larger groups, as it has a room available for everything form meetings to celebrations, such as birthday parties or graduation receptions. Use of the facility for those events is free, as long as food is ordered.

Jake’s Pizza is located at 408 First Avenue in St. James. To learn more, visit its Web site or call (507) 375-5939.