Texas natives return to open cocktail bar Jethro’s Backyard in downtown Houston
Los Angeles-based restaurateurs Russell Malixi and Wade McElroy are planning their return to Texas with a bar in Midtown. The business partners, originally from Texas, plan to open Jethro’s Backyard at 95 Tuam Street early next year.
The 3,260 square foot restaurant will focus on what the couple calls “casual” cocktails in a relaxed and approachable atmosphere, with a menu including burgers and snacks for guests to enjoy with their drinks. The two are still brainstorming ideas for the menu and decor, but construction is expected to begin in August, they say.
Named after a dog Malixi once owned, the owners want the space to have a cozy vibe – similar to their existing establishments in Los Angeles. Good Housekeeping in Highland Park (attached to their charming bistro Cafe Birdie) and rooftop bar Bar Bohemian 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 at Austin while studying business, said they both moved to Los Angeles after working in the restaurant business but were brought back in Texas for personal and professional reasons. Malixi visited the house three to four times a year, and McElroy was fascinated by Texas’ burgeoning food scene.
The two started scouting a place in the city in early 2020, but the pandemic interfered with their plans. By late summer 2021, however, they had signed a lease for Jethro’s.
“We really liked the location, and for this to be a project in Houston – to be back with my family and friends, I’ve known pretty much my whole life, it was something I wanted to skip,” Malixi said. “We love Houston. We love the energy, and we dig what’s going on in this neighborhood.
The neighborhood in which Jethro will be located is already anchored by other establishments, including a bike shop; a sneaker store; and the anticipated Elro Pizza and Crudo, a casual pizzeria from 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; Rebar nightclub and restaurant; and Lankford’s Grocery and Market, open for over 80 years.