Los Angeles-based restaurateurs Russell Malixi and Wade McElroy are plotting their Texas return with a bar in Midtown. The business partners, who hail from Texas, plan to open Jethro’s Backyard at 95 Tuam Street by early next year.
The 3,260-square-foot restaurant will focus on what the pair call “casual” cocktails in a relaxed and approachable atmosphere, with a menu featuring burgers and snacks for patrons to enjoy with their drinks. The two are still fleshing out ideas for both the menu and the decor, but construction is slated to begin in August, they say.
Named after a dog Malixi once owned, the owners want the space to have a comfortable vibe — similar to that of their existing establishments in Los Angeles. Both Good Housekeeping in Highland Park (attached to their charming bistro Cafe Birdie) and rooftop bar Bar Bohémien in Culver City have built a reputation for well-made cocktails. (The owners also own Horse Thief BBQ, a Texas-style barbecue restaurant in Los Angeles.)
McElroy and Malixi, who met at the University of Texas in Austin while studying business, say they both eventually moved to Los Angeles after working in the restaurant business but were drawn back to Texas for personal and professional reasons. Malixi was visiting home three to four times a year, and McElroy was fascinated by Texas’s booming restaurant scene.
The two began scouting a location in the city in early 2020, but the pandemic interfered with their plans. By end of summer 2021, though, they had signed a lease for Jethro’s.
“We really liked the location, and for it to be a project in Houston — to be back with family and friends I’ve basically known my whole life, it was something I wanted to jump on,” Malixi says. “We love Houston. We love the energy, and we dig what’s going on in that neighborhood.”
The neighborhood in which Jethro will be located is already anchored by other establishments, including a bike shop; a sneaker shop; and the anticipated Elro Pizza and Crudo, a casual pizzeria by chef and owner Terrance Gallivan (who previously owned the now-closed Pass and Provisions). Within walking distance are a host of other establishments, including Mexican bistro Cuchara; nightclub and restaurant Rebar; and Lankford’s Grocery and Market, which has been open for more than 80 years.