Jay Schulz spent years visiting restaurants around the country to come up with the “multi-dimensional” concept for Juls.
While most restaurants have only one dimension — offering lunch and dinner — Schulz, 55, believes Juls has a unique spectrum of what customers can do there.
“Eat. Drink. Juls every day.” is its slogan.
“It’s not just a special occasion place,” Schulz said of the restaurant that opened on Dec. 5. “You can come here for any occasion.
The mezzanine area upstairs offers casual lounging where people can eat lunch and dinner or stay out later on the weekends to hang out with friends. The lounge downstairs lounge offers a similar atmosphere, with a separate bar and a DJ booth.
The dining area seats about 140 people and offers a casual atmosphere with some of the nicer finishes, Schulz said. Adding a sushi bar was a top priority because customers requested it, he added.
The café part of the restaurant has its own separate entrance and serves coffee, smoothies and juices, as well as breakfast and lunch. He said it is a place where people can come with friends or meet a client for coffee.
No matter what room customers are in — whether it’s the upstairs mezzanine area or the downstairs dining room, — large glass doors open up to the 10,000-square-feet patio, equipped with outdoor heaters, jutting out over the pond.
About 150 people can be on the patio. Schulz said he wanted it to overlook the pond, instead of a parking lot or another building, so people could enjoy being outside.
Schulz said they researched the design for three or four years and traveled to cities, such as Austin, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York, to pull ideas from the different things they saw.
The design wasn’t about bringing the metropolitan feel from the big cities to Tyler, Schulz said. They merely wanted to discover unique ideas to incorporate into their restaurant.
Schulz’s former restaurant, Julian’s, had some of the same design elements as Juls, incorporating a lot of reds into the mix. Juls is a takeoff from the old restaurant. But the family decided to change the name of the business because Juls is quite a bit different — taking Julian’s to the next level, he said.
Juls has about 125 employees, while Julian’s had about 40.
Schulz’s son, Matt Schulz, ran Julian’s day-to-day operations and continues to serve as general manager of Juls. He helped considerably with its design.
“As a family, we’ve always loved design,” he said. “I love mixing tech with design.”
Matt Schulz, 33, created all of the LED components for the restaurant and recruited carpenters and granite and glass companies to make his ideas come to life.
Schulz said many of their ideas evolved as the project went on.
In the entry area, pedestals with changing-color LED lights offer a place for people to set their drinks while warming by the fireplace. LED lights also can be seen in the ceiling, on the wall, behind the sushi bar and even in the bathroom. Two-way mirrors with lights in the bathroom and pedestals give them an infinity look.
The idea for the LED pedestals came from a sushi place in Los Angeles while the bathroom idea came from a sushi place in New York, Schulz said, adding that they offer a little more cutting edge and modern design. Schulz said he got some of their ideas from Whole Foods’ flagship store in Austin, which has several different restaurants inside of it. He said it’s like a big community center.
“We’re just trying to make it a little bit different,” he said.
Ken Killian, 45, was the architect on the project. He grew up in Tyler and has had an architecture firm in Dallas for 20 years. He has worked on several local projects, including the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors building, The Trails development, the Broadway Hills center and Juls.
He said the complexity of the program for Juls drove the unique outcome of its design. The Schulz family gave him the directive to come up with something unique and original, and it was “quite the challenge,” he said.
Killian said the Schulz family gave him flexibility on the project, and it is rare to have a client who is open to do something so unique and different. He calls the style of the building “international.”
“The form follows function,” he said. “It turned out to be a unique expression.”
Killian said one of his goals when tackling a design challenge is to finish with a project that makes a difference to the community, the owner and each person who walks through the door.
“It’s my hope that Juls will be a place where people connect, break bread (or spring rolls), and make memories,” he said. “Many great moments happen while enjoying a meal together …”
Matt Schulz said that while Juls’ modern design could be kind of stark, his mother added softer touches, giving that “woman’s and momma’s touch to everything.”
Pam Schulz, 55, does “anything that needs to be done” at the restaurant, while their 29-year-old daughter Priscilla helps with marketing and bookkeeping. The entire family works together to develop ideas for the business.
Schulz said Juls is a “full family project.” Having the entire family add their ideas gives Juls input from different generations.
Mrs. Schulz said it allows them to offer something for everyone.
OPEN TO EVERYBODY
The café and dining areas, as well as the lounge and mezzanine, offer a place customers can come every day, whether it’s dining casual in shorts or having dinner for a special occasion, such as Valentine’s Day.
“Essentially, you can come any time of the day, any day of the week,” Schulz said.
Matt Schulz said some people might be intimidated because Juls is big and different from other restaurants in Tyler. “But we’re the same people who had Julian’s,” he said. “We want to be open to everybody.”
Schulz said a lot of their customers from Julian’s have followed them to Juls. Julian’s was in the Time Square shopping center for about 10 years and the Schulz family bought it in 2009.
Schulz met his wife of 35 years in high school. The couple grew up in Dallas, lived in Austin for 10 years and moved to Tyler in 1985. They found Julian’s, which was their favorite restaurant, was for sale and decided to buy it, Schulz said. They felt they could handle the business aspect of it since they had owned Environ-Care, a landscaping and irrigation company, since 1987. Schulz said when buying Julian’s, they just needed to learn the restaurant part of it and felt buying an established business was the way to go.
Schulz said it had been his dream to design his own restaurant. They bought the property off of Old Jacksonville Highway because they felt it was the best growth corridor with a lot of great businesses around it. Clearing the land, finalizing the plans and constructing the building took about 16 months.
“The plans kept evolving,” Schulz said. “We just wanted it to be a special place.”
Schulz calls the menu a cross between Asian and New American food.
Wisconsin native Chef Philipp Norsetter is a Cordon Bleu graduate who has worked for a casino organization in Las Vegas for five years. He is well grounded in comfort foods and worked with the Schulz family to develop the menu.
The wok dishes are the most popular, Schulz said. Quite a few are Julian’s originals. He said the inspiration for the sushi bar came from Uchi in Austin, where Juls’ sushi chef has worked. They also offer hamburgers, sandwiches and pho, a Vietnamese soup. Entrees include filets, as well as several fish and chicken dishes.
“If you want comfort food, you can get comfort food,” Mrs. Schulz said. “If you want healthy food, you can get healthy food.”
Matt Schulz said they offer more organic and natural foods when they can, such as free range chickens for their eggs and meats that are free of hormones and antibiotics.
“The source of everything is healthier,” he said. “It’s better for you.”
During Sunday brunch, which begins today, live Gospel music will be played and an all-you-can-eat buffet will offer 40 items — from eggs and bacon, to sandwiches and pork enchiladas.
Schulz said they are heavily involved in the community. In May, a farmer’s market will set up shop in Juls’ parking lot on Saturday mornings. He said having them there will open a lot of local food sources to them.
The family uses local companies when they can. They were the first to offer beers from True Vine Brewing Company in Tyler. They also serve beverages from Porch Culture Coffee Roasters and Kiepersol wines. Their honey comes from Mineola.
“We really are a big piece of the community,” Matt Schulz said. “We want to be the place where people can come and have a good time.”