"People think we are crazy to open a restaurant at the same time we are starting a family," laughs Jason Greene. "We probably are, but so is the business we are in. At least it gives us some control of our situation."
To a novice restaurateur, going out on one's own at such a transitional time of life could be a recipe for disaster, but husband-and-wife team Jason and Juliet Greene have a little bit of experience under their collective belts -- the two are seasoned veterans of John D. McGurk's in Soulard, the St. Louis institution where they two honed their pub-and-grill chops.
He served as general manager for twelve years, and she was at the helm of the kitchen for ten. As their professional relationship went from love to marriage, they knew they wanted to do their own thing in order to create as much of a work-life balance as possible in the demanding world of the restaurant business. They contemplated many different concepts, but the idea of a true neighborhood pub and grill just seemed like the right fit. When asked about the current industry pressure to be the next best temple of gastronomy, Jason noted, "We just wanted to create a place that appealed to everyone in the neighborhood. Juliet is certainly talented enough to do the most high-end cuisine, but it just didn't seem to fit with who we wanted to be."
This is not to say that the menu at J Greene's is all about chicken fingers and frozen cheese sticks. In fact, although the bar and grill sits in a nondescript Warson Woods strip mall, the food is anything but prepackaged, boring bar food. J Greene's proudly makes the overwhelming majority of their offerings from scratch with a special focus on slow, overnight cooking (as evidenced by the pork osso bucco, Juliet knows what she is doing) and smoked meats. Additionally, diners at J Greene's get the treat of experiencing generations-old family recipes based on Juliet's northern Italian roots. The spaghetti and meatballs is her mother's specialty, and the housemade toasted ravioli represents the best of Italian-American comfort food. For something a little unexpected, she even makes her own mascarpone cheese for the Sunday breakfast house-smoked salmon plate.
And how is it working with one's significant other, especially when the front of house/back of house rivalry can be so strong in the restaurant business?
"Well," Jason jokes, "we both have our opinions. I cook at home though, so that proves she at least trusts me a little."
Read our full review of J Greene's here, and click here for an inside look at its dining room and delicious pub grub.