Jonathan Petruce Has A New Gig
“I don’t have an official title,” Jonathan Petruce told me when I got him on the phone after yesterday’s review of Cinder went up. “I don’t really have a restaurant either…”
But what the former Cinder chef does have is a new job with Michael Schulson‘s restaurant group. He got it on Wednesday, he tells me. And he hasn’t even really started yet. But he knows one thing: “[Schulson] wants his places to be as close to perfect as possible. And I’m there to help him implement that.”
But let’s back up a little bit first. For the past year or so, Petruce (ex of Petruce et al and a whole bunch of other recognizable kitchens around town) has been working with Teddy Sourias. He was at Uptown Beer Garden for a while. Then, when Sourias opened Cinder in November, Petruce was a natural to run that kitchen.
And that’s just what he did. Up until a couple weeks ago.
“I thought it would be more of a restaurant,” Petruce explained. And I think a lot of people thought the same thing. But really, Cinder is currently just a good bar with very large TV’s and an inconsistent kitchen attached. Petruce tells me that he had a lot of reasons for leaving Cinder, but that one of the big ones was that Schulson was offering room for him to grow. “It’s a better opportunity, you know?” Because in 2017? Schulson’s empire is going to grow fast. “They’re not stopping. He wants to keep building.”
On the books right now, Schulson has Sampan, Double Knot, Harp & Crown, Izakaya in Atlantic City and Independence Beer Garden. Upcoming, there’s Giuseppe & Sons (an Italian restaurant, done in collaboration with the family behind Termini Brothers, and opening in the space next door to Harp & Crown); another restaurant opening down in Florida (which Petruce tells me is very close already); and an as-yet-unnamed Japanese restaurant for Double Knot’s chef, Kevin Yanaga. And according to Petruce, that’s just the start.
As for Petruce’s role in this booming empire, he’s starting off in the kitchen at Harp & Crown, helping out exec chef Karen Nicolas. “Just there to hang out,” he says when I ask what his role will be. “An extra hand to help.”
Moving forward, he’ll be “tweaking menus, writing menus, updating things.” He’ll be bouncing around from restaurant to restaurant, doing what needs to be done on any given night. He figures he’ll be spending some time at Sampan soon since that place is essentially a money-printing machine and just got a new chef a couple months ago–Ian Boothman, ex of Bing Bing Dim Sum and Cheu Noodle Bar, who Petruce actually worked with years back when they were both in the kitchen at Little Fish.
And after that? Well it doesn’t look like Schulson is going to be slowing down any time soon, so I figure Petruce won’t be without a kitchen to call home for very long.