James McKenna “Jim” Delaney is the founding father of our restaurant. His childhood was spent in Beloit, and his high school years were in Hartford. Jim earned a BS in Biology from St. Norbert College in DePere, WI.
After college, the Marine Corps’s Officer Candidate School became Jim’s version of graduate school. He served as an infantry company commander at Quantico, VA; Camp Pendleton, CA; and on Okinawa where he claimed his motorcycle was the fastest on the island.
He went to work for Texaco after his Marine Corps years, where he looked after 17 stations in southern Wisconsin. It led to his initial ventures into entrepreneurship. In 1966 Jim obtained the Texaco dealership rights, then opened and operated a Texaco service station at the corner of Park St. and Badger Rd. in Madison. This became the “local place” where many could count on quality auto repairs, fast and efficient service as well as a local gathering place. It was the only service station in town where the fuel attendants wore white, pressed shirts, and Jim’s attention to customer service led him to design a leather cover for his belt buckle so he would not scratch client’s cars as he leaned into them.
Over the years, Jim felt drawn to the restaurant business and formulated his plan for quality food. He founded Delaney’s Restaurant in 1973; it was a business he loved and spent a career building. Jim met and in fact exceeded customer expectations by changing the food and wine menu, and by making significant remodeling updates as needed.
Both Jim and Delaney’s Steak Seafood Wine earned many honors and accolades over the years. Perhaps he was most proud to be a two-time winner of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Restaurateur of the Year, and to receive recognition from the Wisconsin State Senate.
Jim loved Badger Basketball, was a licensed airplane pilot and former airplane owner, was a mechanic and craftsman who built the tables for his restaurant, enjoyed both snowmobiling and soaking up sun on Marco Island, worked on his car collection, landscaped his manicured yard, and especially loved entertaining his guests at Delaney’s.
While Jim passed away in 2011, the legacy of the Delaney Family continues. Jim’s sons; Jim Jr., Dan and Matt continue their family legacy and host their guests with pride.