Jonathan’s The Rub is widely regarded as a classic Houston success story, with chef/owner Jonathan Levine having taken it from its humble beginnings ten years ago as a catering operation, which he regarded as a change from the hectic lifestyle that comes with running a restaurant. It did not quite work out that way, however, with customers being so keen to eat his food on a regular basis that Jonathan found himself once more enthused about returning to the restaurant business, adding 28 extra seats to his location at the strip center. Over the course of the last six years he has expanded the business still further to more than 80 seats, but even now there are still lines of waiting customers at both lunch and dinnertime.
“We’ve outgrown this place,” Levine notes. “I’m uncomfortable with people waiting. We’re too small for reservations.” In order to solve the problem, the restaurant is to make a move into a new building situated just a couple of blocks away, with the opening expected to take place on 1st August next year. The ambitious move will see the restaurant expand to include 150 interior seats with a 20-seat bar and 50-seat patio. The decision has been made to add a full bar complete with a whiskey selection that has been developed by Mike Raymond, the co-owner of Reserve 101. Levine believes that the additional space will bring a variety of benefits to his customers.
For one thing, after the move the restaurant will be able to make tortillas and a number of other items in-house that it just does not have the preparation room for at its present location. Flexible walls will mean that the restaurant can seat up to 80 people at private functions, while the open kitchen will play host to a brand new wood-fired grill that will enable Jonathan’s to add new seafood options and expand its steak offerings. Levine ultimately wants to have the restaurant maintain the same overall feel while being able to cater to corporate clients from nearby areas such as the Energy Corridor.
The change that Levine appears to be the most excited about is the addition of whiskey to the rest of his offerings. As the chef continues to work the saute station throughout dinner, he has been having midnight tastings with Raymond. “I want to be associated with anything he’s doing,” Levine admits. Although he personally has never been much of a drinker, he says that learning all about whiskey has been great fun and that the flavors “explode” with the addition of just a few drops of water. Jonathan’s will also continue to be a family restaurant, with Levine’s daughter Jessica in charge of running the dining room and son Sam working in the kitchen. “We’re passionate,” Jonathan notes of the family’s enthusiasm for the restaurant. “This is an owner/chef driven place. It’s real-deal food.”