The longtime Kenmore Square location of Petit Robert Bistro will close soon to make way for a new French restaurant, Josephine, reports the Globe. Described as a "Parisian-style restaurant" in a press release, Josephine will feature "French contemporary cuisine," a "wine bar flavor," and a focus on "Old World" wines.
In between Petit Robert's closure (an exact date will be announced soon) and Josephine's debut around late March or early April, the restaurant will undergo a "complete cosmetic renovation," designed by new owner Samuel Gosselin, a telecommunications and healthcare executive with a "lifelong passion and enthusiasm for wine and food." Gosselin was born to Parisian parents and spent parts of his childhood both in the United States and in France.
A first-time restaurant owner, Gosselin tells Eater that he has spent the last few months "taking every position in a restaurant, from dishwashing to waiting tables to expediting to hosting" and beyond, in order to get familiar with how it all works. He'll also draw from his experience with hospitality through his business background, "traveling and having to take millions of clients out for dinners." An enthusiastic home cook, he has been throwing frequent dinner parties for years, and he's excited to finally "find someone who is going to be able to carry [his] vision" of a hospitable dining experience into a restaurant setting. Stefano Quaresima, executive chef of the South End location of Petit Robert, has signed on as opening executive chef.
Gosselin imagines Josephine (which is named for his mother) as a combination of "[his] own dining experiences over the last twenty years," the "casual" vibe of San Francisco, the "edgy and modern" vibe of New York, and the "modern" French restaurants popping up around Paris these days, featuring "casual environments where people are really focusing on quality of food and bringing a nice, warm atmosphere around what they like — which is food and wine." Gosselin and team are working on the menu now, but he says that diners shouldn't expect traditional dishes like coq au vin. "Everything's going to have a twist, because food is international, and I'm bringing people in who will bring that kind of international flavor to a French menu."
As for the space, Gosselin is "very fond of working with local artists" and plans to really "leverage what New England can provide." For one thing, his tables are being made by Erik O.F. Schutz in the Berkshires. Schutz also designed tables for Danny Meyer's Gramercy Tavern in New York, a happy coincidence for Gosselin, who read Meyer's book on hospitality this past summer and drew lots of inspiration from it.
Gosselin plans to begin renovations on March 1 and feels confident that the process will be smooth, allowing an early spring opening. Keep an eye on the restaurant's new Facebook page for updates.