RJ Melman is managing partner of HUB 51, adjoining nightclub SUB 51, Paris Club, indoor/outdoor nightclub Studio Paris, RPM Italian, Bub City and Three Dots and a Dash – all located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood – as well as M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica, Calif., and Stella Barra Pizzeria, located in Chicago, Hollywood and Santa Monica.
With an interest in restaurants dating back to his teenage years, RJ began bussing tables and running food at age 13 at the former Bub City in Chicago. By high school, he was cooking at various Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) restaurants where he further developed his understanding and passion for the restaurant business.
In 2001, RJ received his degree from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communication Studies. Upon graduation, he immediately embarked the next phase of his career – restaurant management. In the past decade, RJ has helped open more than ten LEYE restaurants and has served as the general manager of LEYE’s iconic first restaurant, R.J. Grunts. He has also served as a consultant to a variety of restaurant projects outside of the company.
With his strong background and varied expertise in the restaurant business, RJ, along with his brother Jerrod, opened HUB 51 and lower-level club SUB 51 in June 2008, offering Chicago’s most coveted neighborhood a unique mixture of dining, nightlife and entertainment. In February 2011, with the goal of reintroducing French cuisine to a new generation of diners, the duo teamed up with internationally-acclaimed Chef Joho to create Paris Club – a casual French restaurant and bar - located two doors down from HUB 51. Four months later, the duo opened Studio Paris – an exclusive indoor/outdoor nightclub and lounge above the restaurant. In February 2012, RJ, Jerrod, and their sister Molly, partnered with celebrity couple Bill and Giuliana Rancic and acclaimed chef Doug Psaltis to open RPM Italian, presenting a menu that is Italian in spirit and modern in style.
In December 2012, RJ and his siblings, in partnership with chef Psaltis, acclaimed mixologist Paul McGee and Joe’s Bar founders Ed Warm and Tom DiSanto, opened country bar and restaurant, Bub City. In July 2013, RJ, Jerrod and Molly, alongside Paul McGee, opened tiki bar Three Dots and a Dash. RJ and his team’s next projects include RPM Steak and a new ramen noodle concept, slated to open in spring 2014.
Residing in Chicago, RJ is active within the Chicago philanthropic and business community and serves on a number of boards and committees.