Longtime pitmaster Jay Nelson Jr. of JNJ Burger Shack has died, according to multiple reports. Word first began to trickle out about Nelson’s death last week, with family members closing the iconic West Adams stand indefinitely.
Nelson was a Louisiana native who spent years in the timber industry before migrating to Los Angeles and opening his eponymous restaurant. The affable cook was always hovering near his proprietary barbecue smoking rig in the back, turning this or that while chatting with customers who floated in to grab some ribs, hot links, or rib tips. The other half of JNJ’s, the burger shack side, sits to the left of the entrance and contained an entirely different menu, also overseen by Nelson.
For now the restaurant just east of Culver City remains closed, with customers leaving their condolences and flowers on the gate out front. There is currently no timetable for the restaurant’s return.