Fundraiser set for Jay's Smokin' BBQ owner following heart attack; family forced to close Moorhead location

Henrich's daughter is running the downtown Fargo restaurant while her father recovers from bypass surgery; outlet in Moorhead American Legion closes.

Jacey "Jay" Henrichs, co-owner of Jay's Smokin' BBQ, is flanked by his daughter, Brianna Henrichs-Arnold, left, and his wife, Rochelle, on Friday, May 20, 2022, at the downtown Fargo restaurant. Henrichs is recovering from a major heart attack and friends and family are putting together a fundraiser to help pay his mounting medical bills.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum
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FARGO — Friends and family of Fargo-Moorhead restaurateur Jacey “Jay” Henrichs are cooking up a smokin’ good fundraiser to help the well-known barbecue boss pay some staggering medical bills as he recovers from a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery.

The “ Party For A Cause ” event, put together by Lend A Hand Up, will be held Saturday, June 11, at the El Zagal Shrine at 1429 3rd St. N.

Henrichs, who co-owns Jay’s Smokin’ BBQ with his wife, Rochelle, woke up feeling sore April 17, Easter Sunday, and thought that he had perhaps pulled a muscle while working at his Fargo shop.

But he made the decision to go into the emergency room to get it checked out. It was a good call, his daughter Brianna Henrichs-Arnold said.

She said her father was hustled into testing, and the results came back quickly.


“It was a major heart attack. He didn’t have any major damage to his heart luckily, thankfully, but he did have to have a quadruple bypass surgery,” Henrichs-Arnold said.

He walked out the hospital April 24, but the bills are arriving and have already topped $120,000 and rising, Henrichs-Arnold said. Unfortunately, her father didn’t have health insurance, she said.

She said the fundraiser is helping to bolster their spirits.

“Our goal is to turn it into a fun event. ... Mom and dad are very excited and they are very humbled and blessed to know that so many people are willing to come together to support them during this time,” Henrichs-Arnold said.

The Fargo location of Jay's Smokin' BBQ at 1322 Main Ave. is seen Friday, May 20,2022. The Moorhead outlet in the American Legion club was recently closed as co-owner Jacey "Jay" Henrichs recovers from a heart attack and bypass surgery.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

An online auction is being put together by Lend A Hand Up, starting during the week of the fundraiser and ending about 7 p.m. that Saturday. A live band will also be playing at the event and there will be a free-will donation dinner of smoked pulled pork

“We figured we all like to have a good time and party, so why not get together and party for a good cause. And that cause is going to be for Jay,” Henrichs-Arnold said.

Henrichs was at the Fargo restaurant at 1322 Main Ave . on Friday afternoon as the lunch rush wound down.

He was moving well, and groused good-naturedly about the physical therapy he is doing to regain his strength. For now, there is no lifting or strenuous activity, his daughter said.


“He comes in and bosses me around. Which is good,” she said.

Until her father’s heart attack, Henrichs-Arnold managed the Jay’s Smokin’ BBQ stationed in the Moorhead American Legion at 303 30th Ave. N.

The barbecue restaurant had moved its Moorhead operation to the Legion club in January of this year, moving from a spot in the Center Mall food court. At the time, the move was seen as a big plus, with a larger kitchen,more privacy for diners than the mall, and a space for private events.

However, it isn’t possible for her to run both outlets, which are about three and a half miles apart.

Brianna Henrichs-Arnold is seen in the downtown Fargo location of Jay's Smokin' BBQ on Friday, May 20, 2022. Henrichs-Arnold is managing the restaurant while her father, Jacey "Jay" Henrichs, recovers from a heart attack and surgery.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

“We did make the decision to close Moorhead. Unfortunately, I can’t be in two places at once,” Henrichs-Arnold said. “Here in Fargo, he was the main guy on the line. He was cutting everybody's brisket and getting everyone’s orders out. And I was the one running the Moorhead location. Unfortunately, with this incident, I had to come over and step into his shoes. …We did make the tough decision to close Moorhead.”

Jay's Smokin' BBQ will still cover special events and catering in Moorhead, father and daughter said. And closed for now doesn’t mean closed forever, they added.

“Our goal, after recovery, is to eventually get back into Moorhead. He’s a Moorhead native, it’s where he lives, and that’s where we want to be,” Henrichs-Arnold said. “We also have some big, exciting things coming up. It’s not the end of us over there.”

Henrichs-Arnold is thankful she has “an amazing team of people” to help keep the operation running smoothly.


It’s been hard to go from seeing my dad everyday and having him working alongside of me, to not being there everyday. It was definitely a mental hurdle to get over. … It hits me once in awhile. He tells me to snap out of it,” she said.

For now, Jay will have to abide by restrictions on his activity for at least another four to six weeks. Then he will be re-evaluated by his medical team to determine what he can once again start doing.

“I just want to say thank you to everybody. We’ve just had so many people reach out and provide such kind and encouraging words. It’s just been amazing to have that support and the love from the community,” Henrichs-Arnold said. “We’re excited to get together with everybody on June 11 and have a good time.”

Donate to Jay Henricks fundraiser

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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