The owners of Jonathon’s Oak Cliff are seeking relief from the challenges of its famously tiny kitchen. Jonathon and Christine Erdeljac have created one of the most popular neighborhood restaurants in town despite having just 161 square feet of kitchen space.
The Erdeljacs started working with their landlords last year on plans to expand their kitchen by about 400 square feet. To do that, they need a zoning variance that would allow them to take the building all the way to the property line on the side that is nearest Spiral Diner, and a 10-foot setback from the property line is required under the building’s zoning. Their case is headed to the Plan Commission’s board of adjustments Wednesday, and city staff has recommended denial.
“If the city decides they won’t let us do this, then we have to decide if we want to stay here,” chef/owner Jonathon Erdeljac says. “It’s really a crossroads for us.”
The kitchen currently has a two-door cooler and a couple of “low-boy” fridges beneath the counter tops, he says. That means he buys groceries at least four times a week and sometimes more than once a day. Besides that, the dishwasher is too small to meet the demands of weekend brunches, he says.
The new kitchen would have a walk-in cooler, a more efficient dish-washing station and a waiters station. Construction plans also call for a reconfigured back door with a ramp to keep the 1940 building compliant with ADA regulations.
Erdeljac says he and his wife knew what they were getting into when they opened the restaurant at 1111 N. Beckley. But Jonathon’s has become enormously popular since it opened about two years ago, and they would consider moving the restaurant, perhaps out of Oak Cliff, if the city doesn’t approve the expansion.
“We’re not trying to build a roof deck so we can throw big parties,” Erdeljac says. “We’re just trying to get clean dishes out faster and enhance the way we do business.”
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