For Pavle Milic, the current tile floor in the FnB bar in Scottsdale started back in September 2008. Kind of.
There was a photo in Gourmet of Raquel Carena’s Le Baratin in Paris. The restaurant was closed — with the stools up on the dark bar — revealing a mosaic-tiled floor below.
Milic said there was a certain charisma to the restaurant, a charisma he wanted to bring into the original FnB restaurant he built the next year with Charleen Badman.
But they did it with their own twist.
“We wanted to create something completely distinctive,” Milic says.
Opening a new restaurant just after a financial crash didn’t allow Milic and Badman a large budget, especially for a custom tiled floor.
The contractor Milic hired knew of some other tile jobs being done around town that may have had some leftovers. Milic learned that one man’s trash really is another man’s treasure, and hit the jackpot in nearby dumpsters.
That tile floor became a signature of FnB.
But when the restaurant moved from the original location and into the current one, the floor stayed behind.
“I was always pining to bring back that juju,” Milic says.
So, after one really good night of service, a bit of rosé, and Badman saying “Let’s do it,” plans for the FnB bar to take over the Bodega space were set in motion. Milic knew this was his chance to redo the beloved tile floor.
This time, no dumpsters were required.
Fourteen different kinds of tiles, including Mexican talavera with gold mixed into the paint, were used to piece together the floor. Milic says it was like assembling a puzzle.
Armed with an empty cardboard box and thousands of tiles, Milic created a one foot by one foot square of tiles, pass it off to the installers, and start on a new one.
“It was fun,” Milic says, “for the first hour.”
Four days later, the floor was complete.
Since the bar opened about a month ago, Milic says guests have been describing the floor as “uplifting” and “happy,” but for him, the floor “becomes another part of the conversation.”
And that conversation extends beyond the ground level.
The wine books filling the shelf right next to the entrance came from Milic’s own home, the globe lamps from the original FnB and the music from the 1930s through the ‘60s.
There’s a shelf covered in issues of Noble Rot, a timeless marble bar top, and a cement block made by artist Yolanda Esquer that reads, “reverie.”
On a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard wall, a quote from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass has been scribed that's been an inspiration for years.
“The scale of it matches the profundity of the quote,” Milic says.
With a rotating monthly, regional wine list (plus an extensive selection of ciders), Milic says the goal was to cater to the wine geek without any wine snobbery.
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“After all, it’s just grape juice,” he says.
Milic adds that guests have said the bar feels “like a little bistro in Paris” and “reminds them of an older city, another place.”
In his opinion, a restaurant requires three things to succeed: good food, excellent service, and an inviting space. FnB has the first two covered and will share them with the bar, so Milic wanted to create a space that transported guests, a “suspension of reality for a couple hours.”
And in that way, “mission accomplished,” Milic says.