JoJo is a new restaurant going in at 2626 Howell St., the space that was most recently Bella. This new spot is the "bébé" of French chef Laurent Poupart, who was born in northeastern France and began his career at the then-three Michelin star restaurant Au Crocodile in Strasbourg. He also trained at l'Auberge du Vieux Puits in France, then came stateside and worked at Metropole and Les Celebrites in New York City.
For the past five years, however, Poupart has worked as a private chef and family assistant to the Moreno family, who is in the oil and gas business (they also dabble in horse racing. Mike Moreno is part owner of Kentucky Derby runner-up, Bodemiester).
But, Poupart misses the restaurant business and is anxious to get back to cooking and entertaining on a large scale. So, with the help of his business partner Moreno, he's opening this new Pan-Mediterranean restaurant in Uptown.
The concept is fresh, light dishes from countries that circle the Mediterranean, like South of France pizza (with flour, yeast and olive oil imported from the region), pasta and seafood, as well as fresh baked pastries.
More specific details about the menu, wine list and much more will come in due time though. Jojo is at least three months out from opening. They just purchased the spot 30 days ago and are waiting on the city to approve their plans. Right now they're working on the tear-down; walls are gutted and part of the slab has been demolished down to the dirt. They're literally building from the ground up. Within months the space won't even be recognizable from its former self.
Royce Ring from Plan B, who has worked on other concepts such as Bolsa and Oak, is leading the charge on the remodel and carefully guiding them through the multitude of steps to opening. A seven-year veteran of the Dallas restaurant scene, Ring is familiar with city codes and permits, things in which he says requires much "patience," noting that no set of plans are ever perfect.
Chef Poupart and Ring have agreed to let us watch as they go through the entire process of opening Jojo. So, every couple of weeks we'll check in with the remodel, design and hundred of small nuances to get a broad sense of what goes into developing a new space.
And Poupart is the perfect subject for this. Replete with a thick accent that is at times hard to understand, and the gregarious jeux-de-vie nature of the French, he's thrust himself in the oftentimes-befuddling process of opening a restaurant in Dallas. This should be fun.