He’s planning to open Garces Trading Company, his cafe/liquor store/commissary on February 1, but Iron Chef Jose Garces already has his next restaurant lined up. He confirmed today that he just signed a lease for the restaurant space in the Cira Centre space at 30th and Arch Streets, which was most recently Daniel Stern’s Rae. Garces is planning what he describes as a “farm-to-table, Americana” concept there, which he hopes to have open by May. What does the “Americana” part mean? And what about these coffee kiosk and catering plans he has up his sleeve?
“The conceptual part of the menu is still in the works,” says Garces, “But, basically, we would look at a region of the country and pick the three best things from it. Like New England, for example, we might pick clam chowder, a lobster roll, et cetera, but we’re going to try and do it with as many local, organic ingredients as we can. That’s the inspiration.”
He’s not planning on doing a major renovation on the former Rae space - just interior design work, which should make it more likely to open on schedule.
Is he concerned about the restaurant’s somewhat central, yet also weirdly remote location? Garces cites a number of benefits of the Cira Centre - he’ll be able to move the headquarters of his restaurant company, into the building, plus he’d like to start a catering arm of Garces Trading Company and the Cira Centre would be the home base of that catering operation. And then there’s this:
“We also may start our first coffee kiosk there - that could be our first one-off coffee concept. I think it’s a unique niche. I think anything I do going forward, I want to be more unique and original and I think a chef doing coffee is original and unique. The coffee world isn’t touted as much a the wine world, but it can be as equally complex or good.”
Garces became enthralled with the bean, thanks to a research trip to Guatemala with specialty roaster David Waldman. “I met with some farmers and cooperatives and got myself informed on the coffee process. My whole coffee world has been turned upside down - when you start tasting the different blends and varieties - it’s amazing.”
Waldman’s Lambertville, NJ-based company, Rojo’s Roastery, will provide all of the coffees for Garces Trading Company and all of the Garces restaurants. He’s planning on offering seasonal coffee blends, sourced from different regions.
Check back next week for more on Garces’s plans for the Trading Company and his take on his upcoming Iron Chef premiere battle.