In the interest of full disclosure, I consider Jon and Natalie Alexis, owners of TJ’s two locations, to be friends of mine. That being said, I’m pretty sure I’d be a big fan of TJ’s even if I’d never met them and realized how awesome they are.
TJ’s was founded by Tom and Jim (“T” & “J”) in 1989. My family moved from Virginia to Dallas at the same time, so we became regulars at TJ’s for our seafood needs. When they were ready to retire in 1999, they wanted to sell to a customer who would continue to do things the “TJ’s way”. I wanted to grow the business and bought my parents out 6 years ago.
The new space is the TJ’s I’ve pictured in my head all these years. Over 3,000 sq ft allowing us to have a brand new fish market, a 90 person dining room with spacious booths and banquets and a full bar. And I got to put a few things in I’ve always wanted to do, including a custom designed fish cutting table allowing our butchers to do incredible things, and a TV in the fish market where we can play our own TJ’s-filmed youtube cooking demos (coming soon). When a customer asks how to sear a scallop, we can show them with the click of a button.
We usually have about 25-30 species of seafood daily. Smaller changes in selection of inventory day to day with bigger changes to inventory season to season.
The day Baby Sally discovers Yelp and starts reviewing our parenting online she’ll take the lead.
#1 DesignI tend to be a hands on micro managing control freak (chef has to remind me to stop garnishing plates and go back to my office)…but I wisely just let our designer do her thing. Hatsumi Kuzuu (Tei An, FT33) designed the space. To include “TJ’s” with those amazing establishments is such an honor, and when people walk in, it takes their breath away the same way it felt when i first walked in those restaurants. It’s simply gorgeous. I told her i wanted a place casual enough where someone could grab fish tacos in shorts after a workout, but elegant enough where they could dine on lobster pasta and champagne for a special night out. She NAILED it. My wife did a wonderful job with Hatsumi, she was really the client!
#2 THE BOOZEEvery drinker fantasizes about having a bar. Sam Bell (Stampede66, Casa Rubia) put together an incredible wine list that expands on our “fish-friendly wines” concept (yes you can drink red with fish, it’s about finding the right reds). The beers are all draft Ballast Point from San Diego (Beer World Cup “Best Small Brewery”), and for hopheads the Sculpin IPA won back to back Gold Medals “best IPA” on earth. Each beer has a seafood themed logo. And the cocktail list is split between classics and coastal cocktails. People tend to think of coastal cocktails as sweet umbrella drinks. We have a great one (Zombie), but to me the best coastal cocktails are light, breezy and elegant, not loud, fruity and spring break. Gruner- based “Asolare” from St. John, a house-smoked rum “Dark & Smokey”, Summer Shandy, etc. Bloodies and Brandy Milk Punches for day drinkers, too!