Chef-owner Charleen Badman and her suavecito, front-of-the-house partner Pavle Milic served their last supper at the original FnB on Stetson Drive on New Year's Eve. And now they're getting everything organized and spiffed up for a Tuesday opening (that's tomorrow, January 8) at their Craftsman Court location -- which has been home to their other businesses -- Bodega, Baratin and AZ Wine Merchants -- for the past 11 months.
What will they call the new place? FnB, of course. "We're FnB," Milic says. "The name is owned by Charleen and me, nobody else."
Peter Kasperski might have something to say about that -- or he might not. Milic/Badman's landlord, who announced late last year that he owns the name and is keeping it and might use it for a restaurant in San Diego, did not return Chow Bella's call for comment.
Badman and Milic insist they're on solid legal ground to put up the FnB sign and they intend to do just that -- probably today.
"We didn't want a gossipy, sensational story," Milic says by way of explaining their tight- lipped policy pre-move. We wanted to wait until we got over here to settle everything."
As for the interior, it's admittedly hard to tell from the photos Milic sent over late last week, but imagine this: A kitchen has been created near the back of the space that was formerly the Bodega. In the back corner of that kitchen we'll find The Sinatra Table, a tall four-top that may be reserved for a very up-close and personal look at the FnB crew in action. But don't expect anything glamorous or even particularly comfortable. As Milic puts it, "You're in the pit; it is what it is."
On the wall near the kitchen (pictured above) can be found a display of hand-cast concrete blocks -- created by local artist Yolanda Esquer. It reads like a menu of Badman's exotica -- vadouvan (the French interpretation of Indian masala), dukka (an Egyptian spice blend used as a table condiment) and socca (an unleavened chickpea pancake and specialty of Nice). Very cool.
Meanwhile, the rest of the long narrow space will be dining room, as will be the larger middle space, which was originally Baratin. Milic says he doesn't want to jam people together, so the new operation will seat around 56 people, compared to the original space's 48. Not much different -- although the high ceilinged rooms will surely feel different from the tiny, low ceilinged original space.
The small bar near the back of the main dining room will feature four AZ wines on tap, which eliminates waste and guarantees that every wine by the glass will be fresh.
There will be a big, substantial table near the window, and another in the breezeway leading to Bodega/AZ Wine Merchants, which Milic says might be used as a community lunch table. In addition, the smaller dining room may be rented out for private parties. However, we can definitely expect a resumption of Badman's popular late-night meals on Saturdays, 10 p.m. to midnight, very soon. As for the Bodega -- that will be run by Marianne Belardi, former PR/marketing person and Gal Friday for Peter Kasperski.
Not everything is etched in stone just yet. The two partners are waiting to see how the space evolves. But one thing seems pretty clear: FnB will still be FnB.
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