North Dallas is set to get the brunch it deserves with the opening of Jonathon's, an Oak Cliff breakfast and brunch institution which will relocate to 5337 Forest Ln., AKA the former home to Kel's Restaurant.
Officially called Jonathon's Oak Cliff, the restaurant opened at 1111 N. Beckley Ave., next to Spiral Diner in 2011. It soon drew a following for down-home dishes such as chicken-fried steak & eggs, and biscuits & gravy.
Christine Erdeljac, who owns the restaurant with her husband Jonathon, says they were facing a rent increase.
"It was an unfortunate situation where we couldn't come to a lease agreement," she says. "There's been a lot of change in the neighborhood. There are new apartment complexes that are charging $1500 for rent, and I think our landlord hopes to get more rent for the space."
The couple also owns a spinoff a few blocks down the road, at 1619 N. Beckley Ave., which was originally called Kessler Eating House, before they rebranded it as Jonathon's Diner in 2016. That location will stay open in Oak Cliff.
The rent climb proved fortuitous, because they ended up getting a space Christine had eyed for many years: the former Kel's Restaurant at Forest Lane and Inwood Road, a beloved dive with its own breakfast following that had been in business since 1963 before closing in 2014.
"I've always thought it would be so cool if we could open a restaurant in that space," she says. "I have a personal attachment. I went to Ursuline and was a Jesuit cheerleader, and we would go to Kel's all the time."
Christine would drive by and also tried unsuccessfully to reach the landlord.
"The space was sitting there vacant," she says. "I tried to get ahold of someone for years but could never track anyone down. One day I was driving through the parking lot and saw a for lease sign. I couldn't dial fast enough."
The space is gutted right now and she says it will probably be late fall before they can open.
Oak Cliff will still be able to get its Jonathon's-style brunch at the Jonathon's at 1619 N. Beckley Ave. Meanwhile, their last day at 1111 N. Beckley Ave. is Sunday August 29.