Dave Conn, the longtime executive chef at El Vez in Center City, is planning to go into business for himself with a bistro called Alice, at 901 Christian St. It is the onetime butcher shop on the northwest corner of Ninth and Christian in the Italian Market that formerly housed Butcher’s Cafe, Paesano’s, and Monsu.
Alice, which Conn hopes to open in spring 2022, will join a rock-solid restaurant area including Kalaya, Fiorella, Ralph’s, and Angelo’s Pizzeria.
Alice will have a liquor license and a bar, a departure from the space’s BYOB predecessors.
Conn says he’s named the restaurant after his late mother, who is his inspiration. The menu will be seasonal American with a heavy emphasis on wood grilling. The menu and atmosphere, he says, will be “casual and approachable but at the same time offer elements of refinement.”
This is the ownership debut for Conn, 39, who grew up outside Baltimore and moved to Philadelphia in 2002 to work at the old Philadelphia Fish & Co. in Old City. From there, he worked at the nearby Novelty and Washington Square until he opened Amada in 2005 with Jose Garces, part of a cooking line made up of some of Philadelphia’s most successful chefs and owners, including Chad Williams (Friday Saturday Sunday), Joey Baldino (Zeppoli, Palizzi Social Club), Natalie Maronski (foundation.), Tim Spinner (Taqueria Amor, after founding Cantia Feliz), Art Cavaliere (In Riva, Black Squirrel), and Andrew Sabin (now at El Vez).
Conn went on to a 12-year stint at various Garces restaurants, including Village Whiskey and JG Domestic, and he was one of Garces’ assistants on the Iron Chef TV series.