A new nighttime restaurant has partnered with Squash Blossom to use its space and try to create a place for downtown foodies to talk and eat.
The P. Joseph Project has a menu of comfort food – burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, nachos – and a collaborative attitude with the goal of giving back to the community.
Chef and owner Patrick Boll, formerly of El Chorro and Spotted Donkey Cantina, said he wants the P. Joseph Project to be an effort between Phoenicians, with different organizations donating products.
“We’re trying to make a culinary social club, trying to get the foodies out there to eat and talk about great food,” Boll said.
The P. Joseph Project will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to “whenever the last customer leaves,” according to a flyer.
So far, the P. Joseph Project has relied on word-of-mouth to bring in customers. Last week, without letting anyone but friends know they were open, the restaurant brought in between 50 and 70 people per night, owner Jason Raducha said. And in the past week, its Facebook page has received 130 “likes.”
“Our food is going to put us over the top – and $3 beers,” Raducha said. “You can’t beat that.”
One way the P. Joseph Project plans on giving back to the community is through its “Cans for a Cause” campaign. Every beer sold at the P. Joseph Project will be canned, and each can will be collected and recycled, Raducha added.
The money they get from recycling the cans will be donated to different local charities.
The P. Joseph Project also plans on teaching kids who want cooking experience or can’t go to a culinary school how to work in a kitchen.
In addition to the partnership with Squash Blossom, the P. Joseph Project received donated wood from Berry Bros. Firewood Co. for its pizza oven. The 10,000-pound oven will be in use during its grand opening on Friday, coinciding with the First Friday art walk.
Raducha said they are looking for a local artist to paint a mural on the large, currently yellow, north-facing wall.
Boll and Raducha still work during the days to keep the P. Joseph Project running. Boll is a sales specialist with Sterling Services and Raducha sells imported goods.
“We have to keep our day jobs to run this,” Raducha said. “It’s all for the love of food.”
Squash Blossom owner Brian Lester said the P. Joseph Project has a totally different concept and atmosphere from Squash Blossom. But he is hoping for some crossover clientele.
“The night people might be totally different than the day people,” Lester said. “Hopefully some of them come back the next morning.”
The group started talking about a partnership during the summer when Squash Blossom opened. The location was great and, since Squash Blossom closes at 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Boll and Raducha thought partnering would give them the opportunity to start a restaurant quickly.
They waited to start until several weeks ago when Squash Blossom obtained a liquor license.
“It wouldn’t have worked if it didn’t have alcohol,” Boll said. “If you’re calling it a social club, you have to have some sort of alcohol there.”
The last week was a soft opening, allowing everyone to learn how to work in the space without too many orders.
Wednesday, the business put up strand lights so people could know they were open and Raducha distributed flyers at Phoestivus.
Boll and Raducha’s eventual goal is to move the P. Joseph Project to Boll’s home at Fifth Avenue and Fillmore Street, next to Cibo. Raducha said the current space gives them the opportunity to show potential investors they have a good product and following.
“We want to show people what we’re capable of doing,” Raducha said.
Boll bought his house six years ago with the intent of opening a restaurant, but he had to put his plans on hold and move in when the economy collapsed.
But while they prove themselves to investors and community members, they want downtown foodies to enjoy their time.
“We’re doing this on a budget of nothing,” Boll said. “We just want to give back and have some fun while we do it.”
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