Row 34 Alums to Open JP Beer Garden
Row 34 chef Owen Royce-Nagel and his wife, Lizzie Szczepaniak, along with Lincoln Tavern sous chef Daren Palacios, announced plans this weekend to open a new Alsatian-themed beer garden in Jamaica Plain (aptly named “JP Beer Garden”). The trio are still hunting for real estate, but in the meantime, they’re giving the public a look at their new concept through a series of pop-up dinners at Vee Vee.
First up will be “Daren’s Duck Dinner” on September 8, featuring dishes such as crudo, boudin blanc, duck nuggets, and duck-fat fries. After that (on September 15 and 29) will be two dinners that Szczepaniak says will give diners a more accurate glimpse into their eventual sausage-loving, vinyl-spinning, dog-friendly beer garden. “The food at the second two dinners will reflect what we hope to serve inside our future restaurant: a strong Alsatian base with influences from everywhere Owen and I have worked over the last 10 years.”
Royce-Nagel is a Dorchester native who has worked in some of Boston’s best kitchens including Eastern Standard, Craigie Street Bistrot, Craigie On Main, and now Row 34. The chef met his wife at a stint in Paul Kahan’s Publican restaurant in Chicago, where Szczepaniak was a manager. Their business partner, Palacios, started “Daren’s Kitchen” in 2004, a private chef and catering company, before tending bar at JM Curley and Row 34.
Szczepaniak says the group will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign to help them open JP Beer Garden in 2015. With the upcoming pop-ups, the group is hoping to generate enough buzz to incite some interest in the project and to assist in their difficult search for a neighborhood spot with an outdoor space big enough to accommodate 50+ people.
“We moved to Jamaica Plain almost a year ago and immediately fell in love with it,” Szczepaniak says. “We think it would fit in so well here, and hopefully our community agrees. Inside, the restaurant will be Alsatian—with both French and German influences—at its core, with a big beer garden outside. We won’t be going to the extremes of having our servers wear lederhosen, but we do want long communal benches, steins of beer, huge pretzels, and sausages—even veggie-friendly ones.”
Szczepaniak, who is currently studying to become a certified Cicerone and sommelier, will head up a bar program at JP Beer Garden that will have a major focus on both European and American craft beer. “The key, though, is we are really going to focus on beer that pairs well with food,” Szczepaniak says. “We want to feature beers you can drink three pints of outside and not be stumbling around.”