top of page

Local Art Exhibitions at Jacobson’s: The Art of Becoming Part of the Community and a Light Lunch at Le Buffet

“Store manager Frank K. Schoen explained the exhibition concept: ‘We are continually impressed with the artists of Saginaw and the work they are doing. We think our customers should have a chance to see their paintings, sculpture, drawings and prints. Maybe we’ll branch out with a photography show later on. Meanwhile, we intend to feature an artist each month.’”

-The Saginaw News, January 7, 1967.


1974 Constrution of Jacobson's Expansion.

For over five decades, Jacobson’s was an integral part of Saginaw’s downtown shopping scene. Beyond offering an exceptional shopping experience, the retailer worked to engage the community and make their store more than simply a place to buy things. Numerous tools were utilized. Examples of these included:  Creating the Jacobson’s Advisory Council or Miss J Board, a group composed of representatives from area high schools; hosting community groups and events in the store and its restaurants; and featuring exhibits of Saginaw area artists.


When the chain’s first South Jefferson Avenue store opened in 1944, it was fairly small and focused on women’s clothing. However, Jacobson’s didn’t hesitate to make room for community events – even making space in 1948 to host First Congregational Church’s King’s Daughters for a combination fashion show and bridge party.  With the construction of a new store on the southwest corner of South Jefferson and Federal Avenue in 1955, they were able to increase the number of events they were offering.


This link will take you on a tour of the Saginaw store in 1955.


By the mid-1960s, Jacobson’s was promoting monthly displays by area artists. Ralph A. Misiak and Samuel Carter, two of the featured artists, focused on documenting Saginaw’s changing urban landscape. Although both worked in a range of media, their serigraphs—a silkscreen print process documenting historical Saginaw buildings—were extremely popular and remain instantly recognizable. In May 1967, Jacobson’s announced an exhibit of the work of Ralph A. Misiak. The advertisement notes:  “His goal in art is ‘The promotion of understanding and acceptance of art and the artist as important contributions to the life of the individual and the community.” (The Saginaw News, May 7, 1967.)


In September of the same year, another exhibit featured “[l]ocal scenes, flowers and landscapes by Samual S. Carter.” Advertising for the show noted he was “co-illustrator with Mr. Ralph Misiak on the book ‘Indian Jack and Pines’” – a book about Saginaw history by Stuart Gross. Carter and Misiak collaborated on several series of prints documenting Saginaw and its buildings. The Castle Museum’s collection includes examples of several of their various sets and includes one documenting the 1884 Saginaw County Courthouse.



The completion of an ambitious expansion in 1976 allowed Jacobson’s to expand its outreach programs.  The store, now covering an entire city block, included two restaurants and a book department – a department that often included titles by local authors.  The same year that expansion was completed, Jacobson’s carried a lithograph by Ralph A. Misiak celebrating Saginaw’s architectural heritage.


The Saginaw Store closed in 2001. Today, the Castle Museum Annex, the museum’s collection storage facility, is located in the 1955 building – where there are carefully preserved examples of the same print sold by Jacobson’s in 1976.


The Recipe: In Search of Jacobson’s Taco Salad


Last December we explored the story of Jacobson’s casual luncheon spot, Le Buffet Café, and the Castle Test Kitchen’s  quest to recreate the seven layer salad that was included on the eatery’s menu in the 1980s. This link will take you to this earlier post and recipe.


Responding to that post, several readers noted they enjoyed the Le Buffet’s taco salad.


While doing research, we stumbled across this period-appropriate recipe which seemed similar to what was served in the café. Although we are certain it is not the actual Le Buffet Taco Salad recipe, it certainly does evoke memories of eating in Le Buffet.


2 heads lettuce – cut up

2 tomatoes – chopped

1 cup shredded cheese

[1] green pepper -chopped

1 lb. hamburger [fried – as you are frying it, break it into small pieces.]

Taco and nacho cheese chips (Broken up) [We substituted unflavored tortilla chips]

Top with Catalina dressing


-From Sear’s ‘”1590” Employee Cook Book. Submitted by Judy Dill.


Preparation Notes: You might consider adding taco seasoning to the hamburger or using seasoned chips; however, we found the rather mild flavoring reminiscent of the version served at Le Buffet.


Yes, the chips will get soggy - even at Le Buffet tortilla chips would become soggy.




  • The CTK staff member researching and preparing this recipe, unfamiliar with the rich 20th century history of taco salads dressed with Catlina dressing, saw this recipe, and thought he had discovered a Jacobson’s secret. However, what seemed like a cooking epiphany was simply a revelation – Jacobson’s staff had the ability to transform an ordinary 1980s recipe into something that seemed truly special.


bottom of page