Chefs Jonathan Raffa and Mike Gingras, who met while cooking for chef Christopher Kearse at Will BYOB on East Passyunk Avenue, are going into business together, in their former kitchen.
They hope to open 1911 — the name is the address — in October.
Unlike Will BYOB and successor June BYOB, 1911 will not be a white-tablecloth destination. The business partners are going casual, aiming at locals. Their menu of American small plates, with an eye toward vegetables and pastas, will be supplemented by what they call the South Philly Feast, “where every dish hits your table all at once, focusing around [a shareable main course] like a big hunk of meat or some big hunk of something for everyone to share,” Gingras said.
» READ MORE: June BYOB resurfaces in Collingswood
Raffa, 36, born in South Korea and brought up in Norristown, enlisted in the Marines in 2003 and served in Iraq. After he left the service in 2008, his father, who is in the scientific community, suggested that he become a pharmacist. His first job as a pharmacy technician did not impress him. He then turned his attention to becoming a chef. His restaurant background includes Rex1516, Mica, and FLIK Hospitality.
Gingras, 32, who grew up in Woonsocket, R.I., and went to Johnson & Wales for culinary school, moved to Philadelphia when he realized that restaurant wages in Rhode Island were “not exactly great. I realized you could make a living [in Philadelphia] in the culinary industry.” Gingras’ local stops include Terrain Cafe, Osteria (two stints), Sterling Pig Brewery, Oloroso, Royal Boucherie, Forsythia, Stock, and currently Zeppoli.
Their decision to open a restaurant was recent, Raffa said. “Mike and I were hanging out in May, and he asked the question: ‘What if that space is available?’ … And by June 1, we had a lease,” Raffa said. “We always wanted to work together because we work together very well.”
As for the predecessors at 1911 E. Passyunk Ave.: Kearse moved on to Chestnut Street in Old City with Forsythia, and June BYOB recently relocated to Collingswood.