Jonathan’s Grille (Jonathan’s) is making noise in Music City by changing up the definition of a sports bar restaurant. Headed up by brothers Mason and Curt Revelette, Jonathan’s is gaining ground in the Nashville suburbs as a popular spot with high-quality food, yet a comfortable atmosphere.
Jonathan’s has made its mark by serving up traditional American cuisine with a twist. “We offer traditional wings, pizza, burgers and beer, but also a unique mix, such as fresh salads and grilled seafood,” says Mason, co-owner of Jonathan’s and head of restaurant operations. “We’re not the same old sports bar.”
The Nashville natives grew up in the restaurant business, getting many ideas from their parents, Candace and Alan Revelette. “My parents started the first Jonathan’s in September 1999,” shares Curt, who now handles the front end of site selection and financial oversight of the company’s now four locations. “Mason and I took over four years ago when we only had two locations. We saw an opportunity in the area and what we already had in an experienced staff.”
Sprawling suburban growth
The upscale sports grille took roots in Nashville’s thriving suburban area and quickly moved from two to four locations with two more currently under construction. “As Nashville natives, we understand the market and see the growth in mid-Tennessee,” says Curt. “The state has weathered the recession better than other parts of the county and because it’s a very busy, friendly state, out of state companies are relocating here. There’s significant growth in live work and play communities complete with Class-A office space, hotels, movies, malls and I think Jonathan’s fits right into the picture.”
According to Curt, Nashville’s downtown has also seen more urbanization in recent years. “About 10 years ago downtown was desolate from a living standpoint, but I think the other day I counted seven cranes out working on multiunit apartments,” he tells. “While this growth is great, Jonathan’s has found our most successful business model in suburban areas where people call home. We haven’t ventured downtown yet, but it could happen in the future.”
For now, Jonathan’s is focusing on finalizing two additional locations; one set to open in early December 2014 and the other in early summer 2015.
Above and beyond bar food
But no matter the location, Curt notes Jonathan’s has built its model around value in high-quality ingredients and making people feel comfortable. “Today, people are looking for better value for their money,” he measures. “The quality of our ingredients and products do matter because customers want fresh items. Mid-tier restaurants are suffering if they can’t keep up with this quality standard. The difference in Jonathan’s is we offer great quality food combined with beer and sports.”
“Just because you want to watch a game and hang out with friends doesn’t mean the food has to sacrifice,” adds Mason. “Before, the options were to go to a sports bar where the food was terrible or go somewhere more high end where you’d be limited to what television to watch. So, we asked ourselves how we could create that niche with food and entertainment.”
That means going far above and beyond the notion of typical bar food – and Jonathan’s does that with everything from bistro-style burgers to artisanal pizza and stacked sandwiches to grilled tilapia with fresh vegetables, as well as Cobb salads, crispy bam-bam shrimp and much more.
Defining by dividing
Another factor that Curt says sets Jonathan’s apart is the ability to divide and conquer. “From the beginning, we’ve made it a point to divide the bar from the restaurant,” he explains. “The goal is to make each area comfortable for different patrons that frequent both.”
“From a youth baseball team coming in after a game to families and older folks who want to have a long, relaxing lunch, to friends enjoying cocktails; we’re creating the ambience and atmosphere each group wants,” adds Mason.
Jonathan’s has executed this concept by installing a brick wall in each restaurant to separate the bar from the dining room. “Some people come in for the bar feel and others for the family feel in the dining room and we want to cater to both,” assures Curt. “The two are truly defined spaces, each with their own seating and patio.”
Curt notes this strategy has worked really well for Jonathan’s and has allowed the restaurant to attract broad-base clientele. “We now get people of all ages, from all over the mid-city area,” he says. “At the end of the day, they’re looking the same thing – value in a great food and drinks and fun, friendly entertainment.”
As Jonathan’s takes off in the greater metropolis, Curt says it’s not a matter of logistics for the company, but more so making sure the right team is in place to carry out the job. “Our goal is to make sure our personnel are prepared,” he explains. “That’s why we try to always promote from within, working with our employees to see that the restaurant business is a great career choice.”
With two more restaurants coming in the near future, Jonathan’s is tackling a busy 2015 head-on. After launching on the Music City scene just over a decade ago, Jonathan’s Grille is shaking up the sports bar scene, delivering top quality food with fresh ingredients and the same game-time fun.