Kevin Sbraga confirmed this week that Juniper Commons, his upcoming project at SouthStar Lofts, will indeed be an '80s throwback concept. (The Top Chef winner had previously floated that info in one of Craig LaBan's restaurant chats, but without going into detail.)
And when the restaurant finally opens (they're still shooting for "late fall"), it will have chef Greg Garbacz in the executive role. Garbacz has been at Sbraga since it opened three years ago, having worked his way up to chef de cuisine. A Drexel culinary grad, he previously worked at Meritage, Supper, and Audrey Claire.
Replacing Garbacz as chef de cuisine at Sbraga is Ian Boothman, who's been a sous there for almost a year. Boothman has also put in time at Le Bec Fin (circa 2008), Parc, and Morimoto.
In case you're wondering what an '80s throwback restaurant entails, think takes on big-ticket American classics like prime rib and seafood towers, as well as homier standards like eggplant parm and rotisserie chicken. They're planning a sizable raw bar selection, tableside Caesar prep, Lionel Richie on the sound system, and wine coolers.
Yes, wine coolers (housemade, of course), alongside the greatest cocktail hits of the '80s. Similar to Sbraga's impressive bourbon collection at the Fat Ham, Juniper Commons will stock their bar with more than 50 kinds of gin.
You may recall a Sbraga-led Twitter thread back in the spring, which went on for days, with Philly chefs poking fun at the culinary trends of the '90s. There was even talk of some of those chefs getting together for a collab dinner to celebrate and update those fads. Sure, the decade's a little off, but we have to think the inspiration is linked.
Juniper Commons, 521 South Broad Street, at SouthStar Lofts.