It's been almost four years since owners Charleen Badman and Pavle Milic moved their award-winning restaurant, FnB, from its original location on Stetson Drive to its current home on Craftsman Court. And while the restaurant has seen plenty of success in its new home — including a James Beard Award nomination for chef Badman last year — there's always been a little something missing. Something Milic, the restaurant's front-of-house guru and beverage expert, hopes to recapture in the coming weeks.
Milic plans to build out a new bar for the restaurant, one that will channel and bring back some of the charm of the restaurant's original home. "This has been in gestation for a while," he says.
The new bar will take over the space that formerly housed the owners' locally focused market, Bodega. Since debuting in 2012 as a companion piece to Badman and Milic's lunch spot, Baratin, the market has served as a source for hard-to-find local food products including uncommon vegetables, bread, and wine. Milic says the restaurant will continue to sell Noble bread on Wednesday and Saturdays, but Red Goat Wine, the wine membership program that operated out of Bodega, is no more.
Over the next five weeks, the space will be renovated to build out a wooden, marble-topped bar, which will seat about eight guests. This replaces the restaurant's previous two-seat bar, which was located off the main dining room. In addition to the expanded bar seating, Milic expects to add seating for about eight more diners at tables in the room. He'll be bringing in the midcentury globe lamps found at the original FnB restaurant and recreating the old tile floor for which the restaurant was once so well known.
"It's like the floor was a part of the menu," Milic says.
With the additional space, Milic will also be revamping the "B" side of FnB.
When the new bar debuts, Milic will launch a beverage program that focuses on a different wine region or style every four weeks. To start, the wine lover and champion of the Arizona wine industry will highlight Spanish wines with a list of wines from throughout the region. But beyond just pouring exotic varietals, Milic hopes to educate wine drinkers by posting wine region maps by Wine Folly's Madeline Puckette and moving his personal wine book library into the bar.
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"The idea is to travel without a passport," Milic says.
He'll also add a list of ciders, which Milic says is "a style that's overlooked." Effervescent and versatile with food pairings, much like Champagne, cider often comes with a much more approachable price tag, Milic says — think $15 to $25 for a good bottle of cider compared to the sky-high price tags you can see associated with real Champagne.
And the changes don't stop there. Milic says he'll also be updating the restaurant's cocktail list every four weeks to include drinks inspired by the featured wine region. For example, during the bar's Spanish exploration, Milic says he might put a kalimotxo on the menu — that's the popular Spanish drink made by mixing Coca-Cola and red wine.
Milic says he's about five weeks out from debuting the new FnB bar. For now, he expects the bar will be open for the same dinner hours as the restaurant, from 5 to 10 p.m.