There’s nothing that might test brotherly love quite like ownership in a new restaurant, especially when the siblings come from very different food and beverage backgrounds. Older brother Marques Williams used to work in fine dining at Boomtown. His younger brother Jay spent time at Popeye’s and fast casual Zocolo and Parish Taceaux. Together, they are the force behind Jeneral’s Bar and Grill, the new restaurant in the Red River District adjacent to Fatty Arbuckles’ Pub.
Marques graduated in the same Captain Shreve High School class as Fatty’s owner Chase Boytim, and last year when brother Jay mentioned the restaurant space and Chase’ connection to it, things started to come together.
A brick-and-mortar location was not part of the brothers’ first conversations about food. Initially, Jay was interested in a food truck, but Marques couldn’t shake something his mother Janie had once said to him about her boys- ‘The two of you should be unstoppable together.’ It was something he thought of a lot when he and Jay talked about their food ‘future.’ Marques wanted to put his Mom’s belief in them into action.
The restaurant, named ‘Jeneral’s’, (the ‘J’ is for Janie) is an ode to their mom, who died from Covid in early 2021 just days after coming down with the virus. It was a terrible time for them, worse than anything they had ever gone through. Gradually, they were able to once again think about life after grief and they started thinking about a food business.
The Red River District under the Texas Street Bridge was appealing to Marques, who thinks the area— which is close to casinos and the aquarium, to downtown and to an eventual sports facility at the site of the old Expo Hall— has the potential to be more than it currently is, and they want to be a part of that. Once the location was agreed upon, they had to agree on food.
Brothers will be brothers, and both had very definite ideas of what should be on the menu. Older brother Marques wouldn’t budge when it came to having a great ribeye, but Jay wanted a good selection of casual wings and burgers. They created a menu replete with higher end touches and down home goodness; a combo of comfort food and more upscale offerings. They hired former Parish Taceaux chef Travis Peters to move them forward.
Already, they are discovering the trials and tribulations of business ownership. At a recent soft opening, the Internet went down just as several customers were trying to cash out. “It’s going to be a learning curve,” admits Marques. What he promises, though, is that the staff at the restaurant will care about their customers. “I want us to be known not just for good food, but because the people here are really nice.” Jay chimes in, “If there is ever anything wrong with the food, you tell us and we’ll fix it”
Lunch will be from 11 am- 2 pm and Marques promises that “we’ll get people in and out with good, prompt service. I’m drilling it into our staff that I expect great service and that they should treat the restaurant like their baby.” Ultimately, he hopes Jeneral’s is popular enough to one day be a chain of good times and great dining.
Jeneral’s is open Tues/Thurs 11 am-11 pm, Fri/Sat 11 am-2 am (kitchen closes at midnight, bar at 2 am). Closed Sun/Mon. Take a trip to the Red River District soon to welcome Jay and Marques downtown!