Juliet, a Bon Appetit Top 50 Restaurant, is a Labor of Love with Two Big Lessons for Entrepreneurs Like You and Me

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I’m super busy these days, and if you asked me exactly what I’m doing, I couldn’t begin to tell you. Meaning, I’m buried within all the thankless (but actually super fun + important) tasks of opening my first permanent retail + gathering space.

Between meetings with developers, designing furniture and process flow, and putting the concepts that make the space special into words, well, I be busy. It’s a constant game of hurry-up-and-wait, feeling perennially behind, and then taking a tiny step that feels so good you want to break out the flutes and bubbly for five minutes. And then, you get back to work.

I wouldn’t be in this place, grinding away on all these tiny tasks, without places that inspire me, tools that help me, and emails from friends and folks like you who push me along. And, after spending lots of time at Juliet Restaurant in Somerville, I’m more ready than ever. A few weeks ago, I went back to capture the gorgeousness, review the design and collages for my space, and gather inspiration from a place that’s doing it right.

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In case you missed it, I’m getting this opportunity to explore my inspirations thanks to the new HP Spectre, one of the thinnest and most photogenic laptops in the world. (Doesn’t it look so snazzy in this beautiful landscape?!) This is the third and final post in my series; if you’re interested, check out my posts on Tatte Bakery & Cafe and Mei Mei Boston, too.

Juliet Restaurant is a labor of love, and I don’t feel like I can say that about all restaurants. The owners, chef Joshua Lewin and partner Katrina Jazayeri, have spent years in hospitality, likely gathering all the best bits and lessons to stir into this place. Previously, they opened Bread & Salt Hospitality, a catering group that explored a wide range of cuisines and service styles in pop-up events across Boston. Their first freestanding entity, Juliet, comes off like a love letter covering all their favorite foods, perhaps the best of all their pop-ups. From their house charcuterie program to their Japanese breakfast and Steakhouse Saturdays, every moment feels considered and intentional, all delivered in the sweetest atmosphere.

As Bon Appetit said so eloquently, it really is the “all day cafe of our dreams” and it appears to be done on the duo’s own terms. I work on my own space while watching Juliet unfurl, yes, like a flower. And I keep coming back to two big lessons that all entrepreneurs-in-training should consider carefully:

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1: GO AT YOUR OWN PACE

Juliet has come to life in stride. They started offering lunch and breakfast service, then dinner service wasn’t too far behind. They’ve delivered their style of cuisine, one that is both delicate and thoughtful, in a neighborhood that’s previously been filled with just-alright Mexican food, bodegas, and hardcore coffee shops — meaning, it may not have seemed like a perfect fit to some, but, strangely, it feels perfect to me. That Somerville neighborhood needed a little fancy.

Eat Boutique has grown at its own pace too. I’ve hosted more than 10 pop-up markets in 5 years, all the while working on a cookbook and shipping gifts all over the country. Most recently, I’ve been using the HP Spectre to track the results of each pop-up market, assemble our story in presentation format, and even create inspirational collages that showcase what the space may look like. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to maneuver between all those uses on the device; yes, the HP Spectre can do all this, and more. It’s been a tremendous help as I go at my own pace.

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2: DO IT YOUR WAY

It appears, to me anyway, that Juliet is doing things rather differently than most other coffee/restaurant venues. It’s a small space but feels like one third of the restaurant is dedicated to the kitchen and back of house. An investor may encourage every restaurateur to keep that kitchen as tiny as possible, optimizing the space for diners, but I appreciated that they created a work space that fit their style of food and their staff. Speaking of, staff makes living wages and participates in profit sharing, which is not something most restaurants can say, either because margins are so small and/or restaurants tend to just duplicate traditional, tired business models. Juliet is doing it their way, and while I am in no position to know whether that will result in more profits, I do know that they’re part of the change this industry needs and I’m rooting for them.

I am designing a space that’s quite different than what you see in the States, too. It has several diverse revenue streams; a feel and ambiance that’s perhaps a bit more European than anything else; and core values that promote discovery, education, hospitality, and perhaps the most important: intentionality. Every decision is deliberate, sincere, and authentic. I’m not wavering from those key values, ever, and part of my role will be ensuring we stick to it.

The HP Spectre clearly does it its own way too. It’s light, easy to use, and beautifully lined with copper. It’s lined with copper, people?! I would have loved to be in on that design meeting when someone said, “let’s outline the machine in copper” — perhaps a few people in the room snickered. Now that it’s out in the world, I bet the giggling has subsided because, man, it’s beautiful and the sort of machine creative executives want to hold and use… perhaps while coffeeing-up in the all-day cafe of their dreams!

Thank you to HP for giving me a chance to share all of my inspirations as I build out Eat Boutique’s first permanent retail and gathering space. I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek — now, back to recipes! xox

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Where do you find inspiration? I’d love to hear more about those places, moments, dishes that drive you creatively.

This is the third post in a series where I get to explore my inspirations (okay, let’s admit it, my obsessions), including the beauty of the HP Spectre. HP has partnered with me but all my opinions remain my own, naturally. Thank you, Juliet, for letting us hang out and everything.

Check out all three posts in this series. Last month: We visited Tatte Bakery & Cafe and Mei Mei Boston. #ReinventObsession #partner

Photos taken by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio

Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista–shop girl, writer, author, and creative business coach. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is working to open her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food–as well as coaching women in food to reach life and business goals. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: 100 Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Relationship with Food, Nourish Your Beautiful Body, and Celebrate Real Wellness for Life, will be published by Roost Books on February 5, 2019. 

Follow Maggie Battista here: InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

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