Jonathan & Jennifer Barnett bringing “I Heart Mac & Cheese” to Port Arthur

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Macaroni and cheese is one of the simplest dishes to make … or is it?

I Heart Mac & Cheese is a franchise out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which specializes in customizable mac and cheese bowls, and if you are thinking to yourself “How many ways are there to make mac and cheese?” — simply put, a lot.

Southeast Texans will soon found out as Jonathan and Jennifer Barnett, a couple out of Port Neches, is bringing the cheesy goodness to Port Arthur.

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“We found out about I Heart Mac & Cheese when we were on vacation in Florida,” Jonathan said. “We went out to Fort Lauderdale, where the headquarters are, tried it and fell in love. We decided we had to bring it out to Southeast Texas.”

I Heart Mac & Cheese will be located at 3550 Jimmy Johnson Blvd., Suite A.

Jonathan Barnett said they are preparing for a rough opening by mid- to late April.

“Basically, it’s customizable made-to-order mac and cheese bowls,” he said. “We have a variety of bases including pasta, quinoa, broccoli, cauliflower, gluten-free pasta and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

“It’s a fast-casual concept, similar to Chipotle. You choose all your options — the base, the sauce, the protein, vegetables and cheese.”

Jennifer Barnett stands outside the newest I Heart Mac & Cheese at 3550 Jimmy Johnson Blvd Suite A. (Courtesy photo)

Jonathan said options vary from the sauce to the protein, including popular items such as marinara sauce, buffalo sauce and white truffle oil to proteins like lobster, pulled pork and short rib.

“My entire family loves mac and cheese,” he said. “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t. This gives you so many different varieties, and an option that gives it an entirely unique experience.”

The franchise also includes vegan and gluten-free options, along with unique grilled cheese sandwiches, salads and desserts.

The Barnetts reside in Port Neches. They decided to market the location close to home with potential future openings spreading to Southeast Texas, Orange County and Lake Charles.

The Port Arthur location will be only the second restaurant to open in Texas, with the College Station store being the first to open this month.

“This makes mac and cheese a fun thing,” he said. “Children and teenagers to adults, college kids and elderly can enjoy something like this. I think they are going to love the experience. It’s going to be a fun, friendly environment with great food.”

The Barnetts also own The Feed Store, a restaurant in Port Neches that serves breakfast, brunch and lunch. Jonathan also has a background in real estate and intends to make his father, Mike, a partner.

“I wanted this to be a family experience,” he said. “I want my wife to learn and be a teacher in the business, as well as help my dad retire early from working at a plant for the last 30 years. This is something we are going to do together and we think Southeast Texas will love it.”

For more information, visit “I Heart Mac & Cheese – Port Arthur, TX” on Facebook or go to