October 3, 2017 > Heritage and family color JackÕs Restaurant & Bar
Heritage and family color JackÕs Restaurant & Bar
By David R. Newman
John Marcovici sits comfortably in a booth alongside his two brothers, David and Chris, the wall behind them adorned with family photos. We are in their new restaurant, JackÕs Restaurant & Bar at the NewPark Mall in Newark. One photo stands out, a black-and-white depicting a proud and happy woman standing in a kitchen. Says John, ÒThatÕs our mom working in her restaurant, EleniÕs, in Clayton. ThatÕs where we got our start.Ó
John describes the food at JackÕs Restaurant & Bar as ÒContemporary American Comfort Food with a Touch of Greek.Ó Top sellers include fish nÕ chips, a Mediterranean plate with chicken skewers, lamb chops, pot roast, mac nÕ cheese, bananas foster French toast, and ÒThe MooseÓ (two biscuits topped with yukon gold hash browns, tomato, bacon, country gravy, two eggs and green onion). Says Chris, ÒOur Greek heritage comes through in the menu and the way our mom taught us the hospitality business.Ó
The dˇcor is warm and inviting, the staff upbeat and unpretentious. Says John, ÒWeÕre very family centered, and we wanted a place where people can come in and feel comfortable, like theyÕre with family or friends.Ó The Newark location opened in April 2017 as part of a major renovation of NewPark Mall. It is the fourth addition to their family of restaurants. Other JackÕs can be found in San Bruno, San Mateo, and Pleasant Hill, all serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.
While all of their restaurants share the same menu and certain design elements (open floor plan, display kitchen, soft colors), each JackÕs is unique. For example, the Pleasant Hill location has an adjoining taproom with 21 rotating taps serving craft beer. The Newark JackÕs is their first mall location, with easy access and ample parking. Says Chris, ÒWe donÕt want it to be a cookie-cutter, chain-type restaurant. We want each one to have its own feel.Ó John nods, ÒPeople think of us as a neighborhood restaurant. ItÕs their place.Ó
Response to the Newark location so far has been phenomenal. The MarcoviciÕs have not needed to spend much on advertising due to amazing word of mouth and a prime location at the mallÕs entrance. Says John, ÒIÕve never seen a restaurant develop regulars so quickly.Ó And to top it off, they received NewarkÕs 2017 Large Business of the Year Award.
Their success story plays out much like a Greek comedy. The young Marcovici brothers were introduced to the restaurant trade at an early age, when, as teens, they were recruited by their parents to help out after school and on weekends, cleaning floors, washing dishes, and waiting tables. They hated it. Says John, ÒWe rebelled and fought with our mom at every turn. It was the last thing we wanted to do.Ó
Their experience at EleniÕs, however, would prove to be invaluable, especially for David. ÒI learned by watching a lot,Ó he says. ÒI loved being in the kitchen.Ó When their mom came down with a case of pneumonia and the head chef came down with Òa case of Old Milwaukee,Ó 16-year-old David stepped in. Says Chris, ÒHe was the cook from that point forward.Ó
When their parents decided to sell the restaurant, the three brothers rejoiced in their freedom and went their separate ways. David stayed in the Bay Area and worked as a cook, John went off to college, and Chris worked as a nightclub promoter in Los Angeles. Ironically, most of their jobs during this time were in the restaurant trade.
Years later, they would reunite to help David manage a restaurant in Daly City called Boulevard Cafˇ. Working together, the three brothers realized that they now had enough experience to open their own place. They also realized that they possessed a complementary skill set that was perfectly suited to running a restaurant Ð David as chef, John as front-of-house management, and Chris as bar/entertainment management.
They decided to name their restaurant JackÕs, after DavidÕs son. They opened their first location in Pleasant Hill in 2010. In 2011 they opened a second in San Bruno. Says Chris, ÒI didnÕt agree to be a part of it until they both admitted that it was crazy to attempt. Because if they didnÕt admit it was crazy, then I knew that they were actually crazy.Ó John chimes in, ÒAnd I took it a step further, because around this same time my wife and I had a baby. So that was a good time. That was a lot of [lost] sleep.Ó They opened their third location in San Mateo in 2014.
With humor, love, and a few drinks, the Marcovici brothers have persevered through it all. While not as involved in the daily operations of their restaurants as they once were, they still feel that their presence is important and like to be in the mix as much as possible. Says John, ÒWeÕve discovered that the lessons we learned from our mom are the most important Ð cook great food and be nice.Ó
JackÕs Restaurant & Bar is located at 1029 NewPark Mall Road in Newark. Contact them at (510) 789-0027 or visit online at www.ilovejacks.com.