Joseph Brajcki, owner of the Elbowroom here in Fayetteville, is a man with a plan. Thankfully, that plan involves opening a restaurant and serving delicious food in a great location. Sound sweet? Yes. Yes it does.
It was a sad day when the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse closed their location on Dickson Street. However, the sadness wasn’t long for this world and soon vanished thanks to the announcement of a new restaurant that will take its place… and that new restaurant is none other than Brajcki’s Lillie, Lou and Jacq.
Joseph was kind enough to take some time out of his already hectic day to answer a few questions about his new restaurant.
Fayetteville Flyer: The name Lillie, Lou and Jacq is certainly one you don’t easily forget. How did you come up with the name?
Joseph Brajcki: I spent a lot of time on this because the name should give people an idea of what they’re in for before they ever arrive. I wanted something fun that also had a nice ring to it, but the great thing is that the name tells a story too. Lillie is my great grandmother who owned a very successful restaurant called “Mrs. Johnson’s Chicken Dinner.” People drove from miles around and waited hours in their cars to get a table.
It was at my great aunt Lou’s table that I learned to appreciate dining as a special thing. She would have the family over for Sunday brunches that lasted for hours–not to mention, she also introduced me to the joys of really good bread and butter.
Jacq is one of my best friends here in Fayetteville, and she’s my muse. She loves good food, cooking and entertaining. She’s my ideal customer.
FF: What type of restaurant will Lillie, Lou and Jacq be? Basically, what kind of food will you be serving up?
JB: It’s gonna be a lot of traditional American favorites like your grandmother made. Back in the days before industrialized food, she made it all herself, and we will too–from scratch. Also, there will be really amazing salads, and some French influence thrown in here and there for fun and variety.
FF: Nightbird Books will also be moving into the space with you. How did you and Nightbird owner, Lisa Sharp, come to this arrangement? It certainly sounds like an awesome partnership. Seriously. Books and food. That rules.
JB: It was kinda crazy. Her husband Rob called me one afternoon and asked me to meet up with him and Lisa later that day. When I got there, I was thinking they were ready to get some draperies made for their new house, but no, they were like, “We want you to open a cafe at the old Smokehouse.” I was totally flabbergasted at first, but then I got really excited about the idea. Lisa had always wanted a cafe component to her bookstore, and I’ve always wanted to have a restaurant–we’re all great friends, and it was really a no brainer.
FF: Have you always wanted to be a restaurateur or is the desire a recent occurrence?
JB: I came here to Fayetteville first on a vacation, and during the week I was here visiting my friend Jennifer Linton, we hatched the idea of me moving here and having a place that would be called “Dinner Party.” It’s an idea that never died, and has taken seven years to materialize. Like all good ideas, the result never really ends up exactly how you first dreamt of it. I’m excited.
FF: Did the availability of the old Ozark Mountain Smokehouse on Dickson affect the timing of or decision to open Lillie, Lou and Jacq? You gotta admit, you couldn’t have asked for a better spot.
JB: Um, yeah. I wasn’t actively planning on opening a restaurant. I was thinking about some kind of food cart that would serve up great food on Dickson at night, and maybe lunch down the line. A year or so ago when La Maison des Tartes closed down, Lisa encouraged me to open a restaurant in that location. I told her I wasn’t ready yet, I needed a year of experimentation, research and thinking. Good Lord, I guess I got held to my word on that one.
FF: Now to the important stuff: Can you give us a hint at what’s going to be on the menu? Maybe just a few menu items we can look forward to trying? We won’t tell anybody…
JB: Well breakfast wise, I’m excited about some apricot and cardamom scones that I’ve been perfecting. They’re almost there, just a little more cardamom. My boyfriend Chris can’t stop eating my granola. He’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert–every day.
Lunch wise, think excellent salads: Niçoise, Cobb, Chef, all with house made dressings and croutons. I got a brainwave to have an “Elvis” sandwich on the menu this morning. Grilled peanut butter, honey, bananas and Ozark Mountain Smokehouse Bacon. YUM!
Sunday brunch will be a prix fixe deal. Whole roasted chicken, with potatoes and seasonal vegetables. A great big salad, soup, dessert, coffee, and of course Champagne! It’ll be delicious, and keep you close to your friends–we’ll serve it up family style. People love passing baskets of bread around the table.
FF: How are you planning on differentiating Lillie, Lou and Jacq from the rest? What will make it a unique stop for the hungry souls of Fayetteville?
JB: As far as the offerings, we’ll be sourcing everything we can from local farmers and growers, and again, everything will be hand made. Aside from lunch meats and cheeses, our deli case will have some vegetarian Indian foods, French pâtés, house made pickles, condiments, salad dressings and the like. You’ll be able to come in for a full service sit-down lunch, or just pick up a half loaf of bread and a selection of goodies for the yummiest romantic picnic with your beau.
For coffee, we won’t be doing espresso, but rather a kind of coffee stylings of the world selection: American brewed, French press, Vietnamese, Turkish, Cuban and café au lait.
How about an afternoon tea with a good girlfriend, a tower of sweet and savory nibbles and piping hot pot of tea to share?
FF: Have you decided on a decor for the restaurant? Maybe a nice Southwestern motif or perhaps a nautical theme? As an interior design guru, I’m assuming you’ll make it look great.
JB: Hah, I was really thinking more along the lines of “Ozark Mountain Magic” styling.
But seriously, this has been one of the most exciting parts of the project, and basically, my last big hurrah as owner of Elbowroom. Over the last five years I’ve saved up a fair amount of scrap fabrics, so a lot of what I’m doing will be custom made in my studio. I’m working with Kathy Thompson to achieve a fun eclectic European café look. Our colors are buttery yellow, a sort of muddied peacock, orchid pink, and a ton of natural tones like burlap, unbleached cotton, linen and the like. It’s gonna be a little girly, but intentionally rough around the edges. I think people won’t recognize the place when we open.
As far as vibe goes, I’m looking for a fun and energetic environment, tightly packed like Hugos, but above ground and sunny. And of course really good music.
FF: Is there anything else you’d like the folks of Fayetteville to know about LL&J?
JB: Yes, I’m a great cook, but I’ve never even worked in a restaurant before. If it weren’t for all the amazing talents, skills and knowledge of my friends here in Fayetteville, nothing of this sort could be pulled together. I’m so encouraged by all the specific varieties of help I’m being offered. People really want to see this get off the ground, and they’re all jumping in to make that happen. God I love our town.
And Fayetteville Loves a great restaurant… which, from the sound of it, is exactly what Lillie, Lou and Jacq will be; A great restaurant.
Lillie, Lou and Jacq(or LL&J if you’re in the know) is slated to open on Saturday, April 25th from 9am to 3pm. See you there?
For more information check the official Lillie, Lou and Jacq website.