Jon Melendez of MAR and CIVIC


Jon Melendez, owner of CIVIC and MAR in Downtown Santa Ana is a person that understands what it means to be resilient when the odds are against you. Jon’s story doesn’t begin like other restaurant proprietors; he didn’t find his passion in culinary arts at a young age and didn’t go to a top notch culinary arts school working under a michelin star chef. In fact, he started out working in law, far from any kitchen in sight.

In 2013 Jon worked as an assistant in a law firm while finishing a major in accounting. He enjoyed his job, buthe was aching for something more. Ultimately, he wanted to work for himself, be able to run a concept and start from the ground up. Finding passion in healthy eating and juicing, he decided he was going to open up a juice bar. After doing research he decided to quit law and literally a week later started selling juices. In the meantime, he was doing extensive research on how to operate a business in a permanent location and decided he wanted the concept of a restaurant and juice bar. He dove right in, giving his heart and soul to his project, CIVIC. He had no previous experience in a kitchen, let alone the culinary world, but he was passionate and driven to make his idea work. Unfortunately, a year after forming his concept and going all in, CIVIC did not do as well as he hoped, and he had to shut its doors. Passion still fueling him, he didn’t let the initial failure of CIVIC stop him from persevering. Two months after CIVIC closed he decided he wanted to open up another concept, this time a restaurant specializing in fresh fish in the heart of Downtown Santa Ana at the 4th Street Market. Learning from his past experiences, MAR has been open and thriving, and, with the success, Jon decided he wanted to re-open his passion project and start over with CIVIC. Today, two months in to its re-opening, CIVIC has gained more success than he could have ever imagined.

Jon believes to never let fear of failure stop what you want to do most in your life. He understands persistence, drive, passion and hard work will overcome failure and sees his ability to continue moving in times of failure as one of his greatest accomplishments.

Jon is so excited for CIVIC to be up and running and found inspiration through backyard BBQ’s, get togethers, and Saturday morning at-home brunches. He’s excited to have both MAR and CIVIC at 4th Street Market and wants customers to enjoy the food where he found passion and dedicated a lot of hard work to making it exactly what he imagined: his own business.