R.J. Melman is managing partner of HUB 51, adjoining nightclub SUB 51, Paris Club Bistro & Bar, Chicago’s premiere nightclub Studio Paris, RPM Italian, Bub City, Three Dots and a Dash, Ramen-san and RPM Steak – all located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood in addition to M Street Kitchen and Stella Barra in Santa Monica, CA, West Hollywood, CA and Chicago, IL, and Summer House Santa Monica in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
With an interest in restaurants dating back to his teenage years, R.J. 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, R.J. received his degree from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communication Studies. In the past decade, he has played many roles within LEYE including 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.
R.J., along with his siblings have opened more than 13 concepts within LEYE, their first being HUB 51 and lower-level club SUB 51 in June 2008. Since then, he and his partners have added several restaurants and nightclubs to their resume in Chicago and Los Angeles including a classic French bistro, Paris Club Bistro & Bar and adjoining nightclub, Studio Paris, modern Italian restaurant RPM Italian which they opened with celebrity partners Giuliana and Bill Rancic, Bub City, a BBQ joint with live country music and a tiki lounge, Three Dots and a Dash.
In addition to restaurateur, R.J. also spearheads the music programs at their two nightclubs Sub 51 and Studio Paris, which play host to some of the biggest names in music from Calvin Harris and Deadmau5 to Ellie Goulding. In 2013, the partners of Bub City began Windy City Smokeout, the Midwest’s premiere summer BBQ festival which brings together the best in live country music and BBQ.
R.J. and his partners have several upcoming projects in the works and most recently expanded the RPM brand with RPM Steak, a modern, chef-driven steakhouse that opened in River North in August 2014.
Residing in Chicago, R.J. is active within the Chicago philanthropic and business community and serves on a number of boards and committees.