Neighbor-Owned Hangout

For restaurateur John Kinzer, food service is less about climbing to the top of the Yelp ratings, and more about community.

That’s one of the reasons he conditioned the opening Republic Texas Tavern more than a year ago on securing substantial community support from the nearby residents it would serve.

(ABOVE: FROM LEFT – General manager James Shull, chef Ray Skradzinski, chef Kent Rathbun, and owner John Kinzer. Courtesy photos)

“I wanted it to be as far from Corporate America as possible,” Kinzer said. “People want to come out and have a good time, eating and drinking while meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones.”

As friends asked him to open a place like Del Frisco Grille, Kinzer asked them to invest, and 90 agreed to do so.

Most of the 90 are married, meaning Republic has as many as 180 duty-bound spokespeople in the community, he said. There’s an owner in the house at 12300 Inwood Road at all times.

“A lot of people know each other when they come in,” he said.

Republic Texas Tavern, inspired by Texas cuisine with a bourbon-stocked full bar, has hosted philanthropic events, wine tastings, cooking classes, art shows, and an Oktoberfest celebration.

Kinzer emphasizes using locally-sourced products. The interior design features a ceiling hanging made out of around 20,000 corks from bottles drank by the restaurant’s investors. He uses a store around the corner for his printing needs.

The menu created by top Iron Chef Kent Rathburn features food specially picked for neighborhood clientele: light Spicy Tuna Cones for lunch dates, savory Shrimp & Grits for an easy-going Tuesday night dinner, or hearty Smoked Bone-in Duroc Pork Chop for concrete sustenance while sipping Select Maker’s Mark Bourbon.

Kinzer and Rathburn went to Kentucky to create Republic’s own bourbon at Maker’s Mark. Two of the bourbon’s barrels greet customers. Across from the front door, a horseshoe-shaped bar houses more than 50 types of bourbon.

The rear is filled with elegant wall décor inspired by Texan culture, but Kinzer insisted on no wagon wheels. A portion of the dining area can be converted into private dining with a TV monitor for presentations.

Recently, Republic hosted an event for SPCA and a Halloween party to benefit Susan G. Komen.

“Caring for people is what makes a business,” Kinzer said.

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