Gaithersburg, MD

Gentleman Jim's, A Family Affair

Heather Jauquet

Meet Joe Hance and the legacy of Gentleman Jim’s

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Owner, Joe Hance, Jr. in front of the Gentleman Jim's sign he designed. Each date signifies the opening of a new restuarant.Joe Hance, Jr./Used with permission

Owner Joe Hance Jr. has a vision for his restaurant Gentleman Jim’s, and it includes you.  

Third-generation restauranteur and Gentleman Jim’s owner, Joe Hance Jr., has worked in the business for more than 25 years. Joe, a self-described foodie, learned at his father’s knee. At the age of four, he would visit his father at the original Gentleman Jim’s Twinbrook location, a practice he remembers fondly. 

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All three owners of Gentleman Jim's: Jim Hance, Joe Hance Sr., and Joe Hance Jr.Joe Hance/Used with permission

The business started when his grandfather, the original gentleman, Jim Hance, bought the Cavalier Restaurant in Rockville and opened up the first Gentleman Jim’s in Twinbrook. While locations have changed over the years from Twinbrook to Earhart Court in Gaithersburg to its current location in Flower Hill, the core menu hasn’t changed. The menu has been popular for more than 50 years, including their famous Cavalier pizza. 

In speaking with Joe, he obviously takes great pride in what he is creating at Gentleman Jim’s, from designing the signage, creating a homey atmosphere in the dining areas, and securing the freshest ingredients that make up the meals to grace your plate.

Over the years, he has learned every position in the restaurant, and there is nothing he expects of any employee that he can’t do himself. However, his ultimate passion is cooking, which he developed growing up on the line and prepping the food. His passion shines through as he personally oversees every menu item. Therefore, it was important to him to choose a head chef who could execute his culinary vision. Head Chef Eddy Reynoso’s attention to detail and exceptional work ethic made him the right choice in implementing the dishes at Gentleman Jim’s.

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Owner Joe Hance Jr. as a little boy at the Grand Opening of the Gaithersburg location in 1990Joe Hance/Used with permission

Father to son, the legacy of Gentleman Jim’s continues to better with age. Hance credits the first step to his success in surrounding himself with an excellent team. His general manager Lisa Holbrook, and his assistant manager, Chris Moran, are his right and left hands and were instrumental in keeping the restaurant running throughout the pandemic and during the transition from Earhart Court to Flower Hill.  

“I wouldn’t be here without my family and working with them through the years.” —Joe Hance, Jr. Owner of Gentleman Jim’s

His early years in the restaurant gave him the vision he has now, a legacy he wants to pass on to his children. 

Hance believes in work-life balance. He believes that for the restaurant to run successfully, the staff has to love working there. He wants to replicate the family vibe when he and his five sisters were growing up working in the restaurant with their parents. 

In addition to happy staff, Hance sees the success of his restaurant in providing only the highest quality ingredients for the tried and true recipes for guests. And some of those patrons have been coming to Gentleman Jim’s over the last 50 years. The menu's core has remained the same over three generations: their Cavalier pizza, burgers, and sandwiches (especially the community favorite, the steak and cheese).  

“My process for creating specials is simply taking my favorite meals I’ve enjoyed and turning them into a dish where every aspect of the meal is experienced in a single bite.” —Joe Hance, Jr. Owner of Gentleman Jim’s

Hance also attributes the success of Gentleman Jim’s to putting systems into place to maintain the integrity of each dish. He believes that he has developed a simple teachable method to create the same dish every time it is plated. As a result, every time you walk into Gentleman Jim’s, you should get the same excellent quality.

Hance wants Gentleman Jim’s to be that neighborhood restaurant that feels like home, where everyone knows your name. He wants to expand his outdoor dining area into a year-round space with heaters and an enclosed patio area. So no matter the season, there is always a seat for you at the table. 

What sets Gentleman Jim’s apart from the rest is the highest quality locally sourced ingredients, the attention to detail, and the community vibe. The community was essential to Joe Hance, Sr., and the Gentleman Jim's legacy, and it remains vital to his son.  

 Hance doesn’t want Gentleman Jim’s to simply be a restaurant in the community. He wants to be part of the neighborhood. One way the restaurant does this is through school fundraising nights where area schools ask their community to patronize a restaurant, and the restaurant gives back to the school a percentage of the sales from that night. As the Flower Hill restaurant continues to flourish and grow, Hance and his assistant manager are looking for other ways to serve the community. 

You have home. You have work. You have Gentleman Jim’s—Joe Hance, Jr., Owner of Gentleman Jim’s

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.

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