Restaurateur Q and A: Jim Chu of Jo's
Chef Ian Topper-Kapitan (left) and Jim Chu
Jos is a casual American bistro that opened in NoLiTa late last month. We spoke with co-owner Jim Chu, who also owns Lower East Side bar White Rabbit, about his new spot.
What was the vision behind Jos?
We wanted to have a casual place with quality food. This was an idea we came up with years ago and had been shopping around.
Were the populist version of what a lot of people are creating. Theres an air of exclusivity in the city that runs counter to what we want. Cocktails are $9 here, whereas other people are charging $14. We dont want to have mixologist, just bartenders.
Timing-wise it seems like were very of the moment.
How do you make the environment feel casual?
A bistro is always affordable. Here we list specials on a chalkboard. On the very top, theres meat in a cup. Its a take on a French bistro dish called Rillette, which is served in a ramekin. Ours is a beef brisket thats cooked confit with an espresso barbecue sauce, served in a cup with handle on it.Also, its a little loud, and we expected it to be that way. Youre going to hear the Clash and Fugazi. Some people would never eat up in the front bar area, because it gets so loud.
Id rather have someone who has their dog tied to the tree outside, rather than someone wearing a fur stole.
What are some of your favorite dishes and drinks?
I really enjoy the Hibiscus Collins (with homemade hibiscus syrup) and the Diablo Martinique, a kind of dark and stormy with ginger beer and blackberry liquor. Its a nice, tall drink for the summer. The things I like to eat the most are the crispy pork ribs. Theyre slow-cooked, off-the-bone tender and crispy on the outside.
How do you feel about opening a place in this economy?
I would say that opening a business at any time is challenging.
I feel good about it though. The truth is that it was other peoples hesitation that concerned me. We really got a lot of opportunities. If it werent for the weakness in the economy, we wouldnt have gotten our spot on Elizabeth Street.
In general, our vendors were getting back to us faster. People were bending over backward to get things done. There also was just not as much competition.
264 Elizabeth St., 212-966-9640