Tired of hearing a platter full of complaints about their very popular two-year-old Plate restaurant in East Brookside—the dining room was too small and too crowded and far too noisy, it was too difficult to get a dinner reservation—owners Christian Joseph and Andrea Morrow Joseph came up with a solution.
In March, the Josephs closed their three-year-old housewares shop, Season & Square, and expanded Plate into half of the space, creating an attractive new 22-seat dining room.
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The difference was immediately noticeable. By now being able to spread the seating over two rooms (the new dining room, by the way, gets the most requests), the main dining room and bar are no longer seated at once, softening the sound level in the entire restaurant.
The additional seating brings the capacity in Plate to 68 people, so the Josephs and chef Brian Mehl have had to “ramp up the staffing,” says Christian Joseph, hiring a new prep cook and interviewing new servers.
“It’s really changed the dynamic of the restaurant,” Joseph says. “We now have a chef’s table in the new dining room that seats four or six and has the option of either a four-course tasting menu or a six-course tasting menu.”
He adds that the décor of the new dining room, like the original room, is “modern, but very elegant.”
Italian Bistro at the Antique Mall
The latest operation, restaurateur Judith Dobson’s Courtyard Café, closed earlier this year, and a new Italian-style bistro, Joe’s Cellar, is tentatively planned to open on April 18th.
Joe’s Cellar is the creation of partners Ann Scida and Brandi Everitt, who have no formal restaurant experience but have operated an online culinary business and catering service for several years. The two will maintain the venue’s lunch-only policy but will experiment with breakfast dishes and plan to install a refrigerated case for grab-and-go dinner items.
Joe’s Cellar will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We’ll stop serving food at 4 p.m.,” says Scida—pronounced Shee-da—but they’ll stay open for patrons to purchase the sauces, pasta or grab-and-go dinners.
The lunch menu will offer Italian Wedding Soup, fresh salads, fresh pasta items, sandwiches, grilled panini, personal pan pizzas and house-made desserts.
A Seat at the Table
Over 25 years ago, a hard-working 14-year-old named Carlos White took the Prospect bus to the low-slung building at number 5932, where restaurateur Denise Hayes Ward had opened her original namesake restaurant, Niecie’s, in 1985. He was hired as a dishwasher.
“I was a hard-working kid, always on time,” White says. “A year later, I was behind the line, cooking. I learned to cook at Niecie’s.”
Flash forward to 2016, and White, who was operating a soul-food catering company called King’s Table (the name is taken from a Biblical verse in 2 Samuel 9:13), leased the building on Prospect, creating a spotlessly clean bistro with ten stools, five booths and four tables. White does most of the cooking—that includes baking all the desserts, the hot-water cornbread, the cheesy lasagna and the hot biscuits that come with the hearty breakfasts he serves all day.
White’s restaurant is one of the few that still serves chitterlings (boiled pork intestines) and tender oxtails, in addition to the big cheeseburgers, meatloaf, tender baked chicken with dressing and fried pork ribs.
“You can eat like a king here,” says White. “But you won’t pay to eat like one.”