JoJo is a new pan-Mediterranean restaurant currently under construction at 2626 Howell Street in Uptown. The team at JoJo is allowing us to track their progress to get a better perspective on what it takes to develop a restaurant from the ground up.
The last time we met with Chef Laurent (part owner) and design team, Plan B, the restaurant was in the demolition phase, awaiting approval of their plans from the City of Dallas to move forward. They paid extra fees to have those plans fast-tracked, which in all took about three weeks.
Green Tag construction group is erasing everything that was reminiscent of the previous tenants. If Chef Laurent holds the vision, Plan B puts it on paper then Green Tag makes it happen. Green Tag previous clients include Bolsa, Off-Site Kitchen, Twisted Root and several other local restaurants. For JoJo, the bones from blue prints are becoming apparent.
Chef Laurent snatched-up seasoned general manager Gregory Sawin, whose resume includes Craft and Townhouse Kitchen at the Galleria. The two recently took a trip to Seattle to test ovens at Wood Stone. They spent a full day in the test kitchen experimenting with different recipes in various ovens. The heart of JoJo is in one of those ovens.
Fortunately for JoJo, the groups working to bring her to life has done this many times before. They've learned that patience is imperative otherwise the process can be maddening.
"It's frustrating when things pop up that cost money that don't affect the customers at all," explained Royce Ring with Plan B. But, they've all learned to roll with the punches.
"You just can't worry about money for all those little things and you can't stress about things that don't go on time," said Poupart. Not that he doesn't in reality -- he's just learned it doesn't do any good.
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Last Friday afternoon meetings were being conducted over a makeshift construction table between the chef, general manager, Plan B, Green Tag and a vendor. Several construction workers were working around the group. With everyone together, details are dealt with expeditiously.
The placement of the beer lines was a five minute meeting. Dining room acoustics were quickly discussed. Final treatmens for the floors and ceiling were reviewed. Windows, ovens, vents, foundation and wiring are all part of the part of the circus.
Chef Laurent has opened restaurants before, but not in Dallas. I asked him what the hardest part has been and before he could answer a friend and fellow chef from France who was visiting chimed in, "Learning English." He actually already knows English, this just gives everyone a giggle because sometimes he can be difficult to understand. But, he and everyone else are working through it. And soon he'll be speaking the international language of food.
After everyone is clear on their marching orders, they quickly carry on. We'll check in again soon.