Juliet Says Good Morning to Union Square
Juliet is the neighborhood café co-owners Josh Lewin and Katrina Jazayeri want to see: The quality of the fare is high, the prices are not; grab-and-go items are available all day, every day, and so is a more special dining experience.
The first formal restaurant venture from the Bread & Salt Hospitality team, Juliet opens Monday morning, February 29.
Taking over the former Sherman Café space in Union Square, it will continue to be bus commuters’ most convenient option for coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and salads to go (there’s a stop right outside Juliet’s door), but Juliet will also offer substantial morning prix-fixe options and dinner plates. See the full, opening breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus below.
“The inspiration for Juliet, in general, is a European-style café,” Lewin explains.
The prix-fixe options are part of this. Instead of the formal, likely lengthy and expensive fixed menus most Americans might think of, Lewin’s is more akin to the Parisian concept of formule dining, he says. For $15, diners seated at a full-service counter will get a coffee or tea and a few, globally-inspired dishes, served all at once. The two menus at the outset nod to Lewin’s culinary background in French cuisine, and a favorite Brooklyn haunt of his and Jazayeri’s, Japanese breakfast spot Okonomi. They’re just some examples of the sit-down breakfasts Juliet will serve.
Another big source of inspiration for the Bread & Salt Hospitality team? What Lewin and Jazayeri love.
“We’re cooking for the neighborhood and sharing our favorite things,” Lewin says, such as charcuterie, which was prominent during the duo’s Wink & Nod residency and its Gitana pop-up at Cuisine en Locale.
Also, Jazayeri’s breakfast tacos, a Tex-Mex-inspired delicacy limited to her native Texas Hill Country. She plans to start with potato, egg, and cheese and bacon, egg, and cheese, two classics she served at one of the first Bread & Salt pop-ups in Union Square, back in fall 2013. “We were floored by the response from the neighborhood, so we filed that away as something we wanted to bring to this area,” she says.
Consulting pastry chef Katie Kimble (formerly of Area Four) is developing the bread and pastry program, which will include some house-baked loaves as well as Iggy’s products; plus tarts, quiches, croissants, and other rotating options.
After 4 p.m., there will be a handful of entrées and likely some rotating specials available at the six-seat, full-service counter, but the dinner program is still developing. “We know we want to be here all day, [so] we’ll have conversation with the neighborhood about whether they want us to stay casual at night with grab-and-go, or whether they want us to introduce more full service.”
The City of Somerville knows Juliet wants a permit to sell alcohol, Lewin says, so if and when that becomes available, that could change the dinner hour, too.
But regardless of time of day, away from the six seats overlooking the renovated, newly-opened kitchen, the bright and airy café will be counter service only. And you won’t find a tip jar: Bread & Salt Hospitality is the latest restaurant group to forgo typical gratuity practices.
“We built the concept to have flexibility there,” Lewin says. “We’ve made sure every person in the restaurant is customer-service oriented first … Everybody is being paid an hourly wage, and there’s no expectation of the customers to provide an extra tip, either for casual counter or for the full-service dining experience.”
He and Jazayeri are also implementing a profit-sharing model, in the form of open book management practices. Read: The staff will be privy to Juliet’s financials, and they’ll be expected to influence those numbers.
“We want to incentivize our staff, but we don’t want that incentive to come from the customers, or have the staff worry about working on a busy Friday, or whether there’s a snowstorm on a Monday,” Lewin says.
Beginning on Monday, Juliet is open daily from 7 a.m.-7p.m.
Juliet, 257 Washington St., Union Square, Somerville; 617-781-0958 or julietsomerville.com.