(Nov. 15, 2013) J/R’s “The Place for Ribs” on 131st Street just finished some revamping, bringing an expanded sports bar, a new menu and a longtime owner back to the 30-year-old restaurant.
“I guess the answer is ‘Jack is back,’” said owner of J/R’s the Place for Ribs Jack Hubberman, who returned to the restaurant last year after a four-year absence.
Hubberman has been fronting some changes at J/R’s and said they have been met with customers’ approval. Last Wednesday, the restaurant held its grand opening party for its extended sports bar with around 250 people packing out the house enjoying food and drinks.
“Everybody remarks how nice it looks, how grand it is for space, and they enjoy it,” Hubberman said of the bar, which grew by nine and a half feet, almost a third of its original size.
The idea to expand the bar came about a year ago, he said, when he noticed that customers needed more room. He teamed with Mitrecic Builders in mid-July and two months later, the bar was complete.
“It worked out very nicely,” Hubberman said. “It doesn’t look like anything was added on. It looks like it was here the whole time.”
“It’s definitely changed the look,” though, said J/R’s Manager Evelyn Halligan. The restaurant also added new tabletops, chairs, windows, more TVs and new dance floor.
The look isn’t the only change at J/R’s, though, as managers and chefs also took the opportunity to revamp the menu. New items include steamed crabs, mussels, oysters — raw, baked and grilled — and clams casino. The new fried chicken recipe has “really taken off,” Hubberman said. “It’s probably one of the best fried chickens you’ll ever get.”
More children’s dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, pizza and macaroni are also offered.
“All the old favorites are still on there,” Hubberman said. “The crab cakes are one of the best… Our baby back ribs – we’ve been at it for over 30 years.”
Those ribs form the founding idea behind J/R’s, which originally opened on 62nd Street, where Ocean City’s oldest rib restaurant is still in business, he said.
Hubberman, who started working in restaurants at age 17 in Baltimore, came to Ocean City more than 30 years ago to demonstrate restaurant equipment. Taken by the area, he moved here and opened the Potato Shack on the Boardwalk between Second and Third streets in 1977.
His Baltimore partner, Joe Colton, owned House of Pasta on the Boardwalk.
“He said, ‘Jack, we’ve got to open up a rib house. Ocean City is crying for a rib house,” Hubberman said. “I said, ‘No, no, no,’ and finally, I said, ‘Okay, we’ll open up a rib house.’”
The two chose the 62nd Street location for its exposure from the Route 90 bridge. They chose the name “J/R” for their wives, Jackie and Rosalie.
“We did a nice job there,” Hubberman said, “and then we grew,” opening J/R’s second location at 131st Street in 1984.
“It just kept on going,” he said. “I still love it here, after all these years.”
Hubberman still has plans in the works for the restaurant, including putting up heavy sliding doors between the bar and dining area to cut down on background noise during dinner.
He plans to cut back restaurant hours to four or five days a week after Thanksgiving, though he will stay open if business is up, he said.
In the meantime, J/R’s at 131st Street opens at 4 p.m. every day except Tuesday, when the restaurant is closed. Most menu items are available for dining in or carrying out.
For more information, visit www.jrsribs.com or www.facebook.com/ jrsribs.