Hailing from Michigan City, IN, a beach town on Lake Michigan, Jill Weber spent her childhood longing to travel. This eventually led Weber to Chicago, where she attended Northwestern University to receive a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. A few years later, Weber supplemented this degree with a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Since 1992, Weber conducted fieldwork in Syria, Turkey and Armenia as an Archaeologist, where she excavated and identified animal bones from archaeological sites. During her travels, Weber developed friendships with people from all over the world.
Over the years, Weber acquired a diverse knowledge of countries, cultures and native cuisines. After visiting some of the world’s most unique bars and restaurants, she decided to open a restaurant of her own back in Philadelphia.
Inspired by wine bars in Turkey, Norway and Armenia, Weber combined the best qualities of her favorite spots to create Jet Wine Bar, a stylish but unpretentious wine bar in Philadelphia. REX 1516 followed on the success of that venture. REX 1516 offers quality Southern food in a comfortable, though elegant, setting.
Evan Malone earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Systems Engineering from Cornell University. During his doctoral research, Evan developed 3D printing technology for producing complete electromechanical devices, biomaterials, living tissues, and food, as well as the FabAtHome personal 3D printer.
Evan has worked in applied physics at Fermilab, a high-energy physics laboratory outside of Chicago, IL, as part of a proton accelerator conceptual design team. He also performed research on mobile robotics as part of Cornell University’s 2002 World Champion RoboCup autonomous robotic soccer project.
In 2010, to help give creative individuals and small businesses in Philadelphia greater access to high tech tools and expert consulting, Evan created NextFab Studio- a shared high-tech workspace and incubator for art, technology, and entrepreneurship. NextFab is now expanding to a new location in South Philadelphia.
Evan’s efforts are not limited to science and technology, however. He is a partner in Drive Passion PC Services- an Internet café in Mahube Valley, Gauteng, South Africa. In addition, he joined Jill Weber as a partner in Philadelphia’s Jet Wine Bar and, most recently, REX 1516.
Justin Swain was born and raised in Philadelphia. He went to high school for visual arts at CAPA on South Broad Street and worked at the Mayfair Diner for three years as a teenager, dishwashing and peeling potatoes. After high school he spent four years as a bike messenger, racing frequently, being an artist and cooking for himself every night. His girlfriend urged him to pursue his interest in food and he enrolled in culinary school at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College.
He began his career working at 1601, working with former Chef Regis Jansen and learned a lot very quickly. From there he moved on to Bridget Foy’s where he perfected his talents. The chef at Foy’s (Brendan Mullen) gave him a lot of culinary freedom and he quickly honed his skills. Once Rex 1516 opened Jansen brought him on and he quickly was made sous-chef.
After Regis fell ill Justin took over as Executive Chef of Rex 1516. He expertly upholds our reputation for elevated comfort food while using his classical training and passion for other Southern influences to put his own spin on the menu. Justin also is responsible for all of the pastry work at Rex 1516.
A Pennsylvania native and wine enthusiast, Heather Rodkey’s passion for the restaurant industry is unmatched. To this day, Rodkey has maintained a youthful hunger with over 22 years of experience to keep learning and improving in an industry where change is the only constant.
Rodkey earned her first job at age 14 working as a bus girl at The Dixie in Lebanon, PA and she hasn’t looked back since. Over the years, Rodkey has incrementally worked her way up the ranks, earning the respect of her peers in the process with an uncompromising quest for perfection. An integral element to her success, Rodkey has worked at restaurants in which chefs shared a comparable level of credibility and integrity to her own standards.
To further expand her knowledge of craft beers and wines, Rodkey organized beer tastings and cocktail gatherings, as well as managed the beverage programs while working at Philadelphia restaurants Rouge and Adsum. In addition to her extensive experience, Rodkey received an undergraduate degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and studied at both The French Alliance and The Wine School of Philadelphia.
In July 2011, Rodkey worked as Consultant at Jet Wine Bar. It only took a few months before Rodkey was named REX 1516 General Manager. Rodkey loves restaurants with a comfortable but unique environment, an atmosphere REX 1516 certainly offers its patrons.