Meet the Member: Jonathan levine of Jonathan's The Rub

We are so thrilled to launch Volume 6 of The Scout Guide Houston in December 2021. So thrilled, in fact, we can’t wait for the official launch to start introducing the local business owners who will grace this year’s guide!

Follow along as we share their stories, inspiration and motivation in our newest series, Meet the Members. Up next, Jonathan Levine of the beloved Houston hot spot, Jonathan’s The Rub.

The Scout Guide Houston: Before diving into the origin story of your restaurant, can you share what your path to becoming an entrepreneur was like?
Jonathan Levine: I’m a career entrepreneur and took the entrepreneurial leap in 19884, 3 years after receiving my MBA. My success in the corporate world was hampered because I was too strong willed, incapable of conforming to the dictates of my superiors, and overconfident in my own abilities. Basically, I was and still am an eternal optimist and rather fearless. The perfect recipe for an entrepreneur.

TSG Houston: How did your entrepreneurial spirit – and disposition – lead you to the restaurant biz?
JL: A combination of things. I was a naturally good cook and loved cooking. I was also good with numbers. And, as an athlete, I was fit for line cooking, which is definitely an athletic endeavor. In short, being a chef and owner was perfect for me.

TSG Houston: As a career entrepreneur, what has your experience been like?
JL: I tell people I haven’t worked since 1984. When you are doing what you love for your sustenance, spiritual and financial, how can you call it work?

TSG Houston: You opened Jonathan’s The Rub in March of 2008. Can you share the meaning behind your restaurant’s unique name?
JL: My mother Judy – God rest her soul – was a brilliant woman: classical piano player, avid reader, and lover of Shakespeare. She had a great memory and was able to recite many of his soliloquies. At dinner parties in my childhood home – after a couple of vodka martinis, no olives – she would stand on a chair and recite. Well, our favorite was Hamlet’s ‘To Be or Not to Be’ soliloquy. In this childhood favorite, “Therein Lies the Rub” refers to the eternal, questions without answers, the conundrums, referencing mortality, questioning the nature of existence. For me, “the Rub” became a theme and part of my legacy, Jonathan’s The Rub!

TSG Houston: Among many things, Jonathan’s The Rub is known for quality. Let’s talk about how that’s accomplished from an Owner/Chef perspective…
JL: It’s a difficult task to cook so many things at every meal – steaks, seafood, fish, Brooklyn-influenced, Italian-influenced, Houston-influenced… But there are no short cuts. It must all be done from scratch.

TSG Houston: What else should newcomers to Jonathan’s The Rub know about your restaurant?
JL: In addition to fabulous mains, we also care about having great side dishes: Mac ‘n Cheese, Brussel sprouts, Cheese Grits, to name a few. Pair that with a nice wine list and well-constructed cocktails, and well, you get the point. Operationally we offer consistent great service, it is like fine dining service done casually, difficult to execute, but it happens every meal.

TSG Houston: Aside from a full stomach, what else do you want your guests to leave your restaurant with?
JL: A sense of our warmth, the knowledge that our family cares. That defines who we are. We hope you feel it as soon as you walk in.

We look forward to sharing more of Jonathan Levine’s story with you over the next year – in the meantime, visit them for happy hour!