What is there in a movement a door in the street? For Josh Lewin, Katrina Jazayeri and their team at Juliet, this is a necessary step to maintain their award-winning restaurant, but more than that, the larger space will help Juliet become a more complete realization of Lewin and Jazayeri’s original intentions. And it’s a way to engage the community, once again, in a crowdfunding campaign it proves the enthusiasm of the fans for this next step in Juliet’s evolution.
In 2015, Lewin and Jazayeri first turned to Kickstarter to help fund Juliet’s opening in a small corner of a space – formerly a cafe, and earlier, a shoe store – at 257 Washington Street in Somerville’s Union Square. They had already started to market themselves through their pop-up, Bread & Salt Hospitality, but they did not yet have the name recognition that owners of a permanent restaurant might have. Still, they were able to earn over $ 40,000 from the campaign and opened the restaurant that became Eater Boston’s 2016 Restaurant of the Year and a mainstay of Eater 38.
This time, they were able to exceed their goal of $ 100,000 in just four days. With two days left on the clock as of press time, they are currently around $ 130,000.
Over the course of five years, Juliet has offered many different dining experiences: casual cafes, a la carte dinners, high-end, prix-fixe menus with distinct themes that rotate every few weeks or months, a “virtual restaurant without. walls’ offering collections of Pandemic Era Meal Kits with Zoom components, and more. (There’s even a gift shop next door, plus a collection of publications and multimedia works by the Juliet team.)
The menu has never really attached itself to a cuisine – it’s rather “a collection of our favorite dishes,” says Lewin, although he says only allusions to his and Jazayeri’s travels across France and Spain have always been in the background. Even more than a specific trip, it is the idea of a postcard sent home, representing what you discover during your travels.
Juliet has always been an “experiment” in her current space, Lewin says, noting that he served “essentially a tasting menu in a shoe store, partly by accident and partly out of professional necessity.” In such a small space, a no-show can take a big toll on results, so early on Juliette’s team introduced paid (prepaid) dinners they call productions. “In charging for tickets, we have to meet certain expectations, so that’s where the menu productions come from.”
But in a space of less than 1,000 square feet, these elaborate productions never felt sustainable. “This thing is going to have an expiration date,” Lewin recalls, thinking. “The concept will have to change someday, or it will have to move or close. There’s no way it’s a 20-year plan. “
The new space at 263 Washington St., two and a half times the size of the old one, will keep the team moving forward – while also focusing on a more focused culinary approach, mostly inspired by Nice on the Côte d ‘Azur, who captured Lewin and Jazayeri’s hearts on an off-season trip. While this has always been in the background, Nice will be put more prominently in the new space – think of the main dining room as a Nice-style bistro, influenced by “that part of France where it’s half. France, half Italy ”. Lewin said.
“If I had to describe the flavors, you’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the Juliet menu.’ But we’re going to give it top billing in a way we’ve never had a place before because we were so focused on this rotating dinner. As it takes a back seat, it will take a front seat, and we think it’s important for the community, because it means you can count on Juliet as something every night, something we’ve never been into. able to do.
This does not mean that the dinner productions are disappearing; they will have their own special dining area at the back, for which Jazayeri will change the mood of the space to match the current theme, and there will be media components involved.
263 Washington St. fell in Team Juliet’s towers, Lewin said. They were six months into opening their Peregrine restaurant on Beacon Hill when a developer called about the space right next to Juliet. It was the former home of one of Juliette’s regulars, Jerry, who had since returned to Ireland. “This was our first exodus of regulars,” Lewin says, noting that Boston’s fleeting nature has led to the loss of other regulars over the years, students leaving town and the like. “People keep moving on us,” he said. “This time we’re moving to Jerry’s place.
So why turn to Kickstarter a second time? $ 100,000 certainly won’t build the whole restaurant, but it allows Juliet at least in part to avoid taking funding from more traditional sources, such as investors and bank loans, that would impact Juliet. profit-sharing with its employees long-term.
If all goes according to plan, the new Juliet could debut sometime in fall 2021. As for the original Juliet space, Lewin says the team is hoping to keep it for a purpose yet to be determined, ideally a food service. Before Juliette, it was Sherman Cafe, and Lewin could see it going back to his coffee roots. “We’ve pushed it so far beyond its limit,” he says, “but being able to come back to something a little simpler here would be ideal for us.”
Juliet Kickstarter campaign has two more days. “Have you ever considered supporting a restaurant during the pandemic by purchasing a gift card? That’s really all we’re asking for right now, ”says Lewin. Kickstarter contributors can get rewards like prepaid lunches and dinners, cooking coaching, and more.