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VOL. 125 | NO. 124 | Monday, June 28, 2010

Bari Ristorante Owners To Open Diner on Broad Ave.

FREDRIC KOEPPEL | Special to The Memphis News

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Bari Ristorante owners Jason and Rebecca Severs in the doorway of what will become Three Angels Diner, 2617 Broad Ave.
Photo: Bob Bayne

Jason and Rebecca Severs launched Bari Ristorante in November 2002, and almost eight years later, the restaurant and bar – the bar next door opened in 2005 – run with the smoothness of chocolate sauce across the pastry of a warm profiterole.

So, naturally, the couple is going to open another restaurant.

Rebecca Severs serves as Bari’s manager and wine buyer. Jason, who has a fine arts background, is Bari’s chef. The restaurant, in a standalone building at 22 S. Cooper St. near Madison Avenue, is named for the coastal city of Bari, capital of Apulia, a province on the Adriatic Sea that might correspond to the shin of Italy’s boot-heel.

Jason’s mother’s family is from a village in Apulia, and the restaurant’s cuisine is inspired by the fish and seafood heritage of the region. It took local diners awhile to accustom themselves to an Italian restaurant that served no ravioli or lasagna, no manicotti or pizza.

The couple has been married 10 years. They have three sons, Lucian, 7, Julian, 3, and Matteo, 2. The new venture will be Three Angels Diner – named for the three boys – at 2617 Broad Ave.

Since it was cut off from Sam Cooper Boulevard, Broad has both calmed down in terms of car traffic and intensified as an emerging arts district. The legendary Broadway Pizza has been there for decades, joined a few years ago by retro cocktail bar and eatery The Cove. A number of artists live or have studios on Broad (see Cover Story, P. 20)

The Severs sat down with Restaurant Insider recently and talked about Three Angels Diner.

Restaurant Insider: How long has this idea been rolling around in your heads?

Jason Severs: For a while. I’d say two or three years. Seriously for two years. And I’ll add that we’re not getting tired of Bari.

Rebecca Severs: Not at all. Jason and I like to eat food other than Bari food.

Jason: We find ourselves saying, “What are we going to eat for lunch or dinner?”

Rebecca: We like Mexican food, we like soul food. We both like vegetarian food.

Jason: We just want it to be good quality. And now that we have three kids, we can’t go to some places we used to go. We need to open three businesses so we can feed three kids.

R.I.: The diner concept will be far different from the Bari concept.

Jason: Sure, Bari is fine dining, white tablecloths, you need to look nice. Sometimes I want to go out in my shorts and polo shirt.

Rebecca: We hear from other restaurant people and the service industry, the wine reps, that there’s no good place to eat late at night especially. And we asked our friends what they thought about a diner in Midtown, and they thought it was a good idea. For us, it will be fun.

Jason: Not to say that Bari isn’t fun, but it’s southeastern Italian cuisine, and I can’t do maybe a special that’s French. It’s like an artist with a medium, you want to change the medium sometimes.

Rebecca: Nothing will change about Bari. We have a great staff, and we feel that we’re able to go and do other things.

R.I.: Describe the menu.

Jason: We’re using the term “diner” so it can be whatever we want. We’ll have sandwiches, a meat of the day with sides, soups. I’ll make fried chicken or maybe ceviche or pasta. A lot of vegetarian food, tofu and tempeh, lots of grains and beans, homemade desserts. We’ll still have the Bari philosophy of healthy food.

R.I.: Who will actually be cooking?

Rebecca: Jason will still be the chef at Bari. We don’t know about Three Angels, we haven’t discussed that yet. Since Bari isn’t open for lunch, we’ll probably both be here in the afternoon, and then we’ll alternate nights between Three Angels and Bari.

R.I.: What took you to Broad Avenue for a restaurant location?

Jason: We knew we wanted to be in Midtown, but we never considered Broad. We looked in Cooper-Young, but didn’t really want to be there. We looked at where Fuel is now. We started talking about Broad after we saw something on Craigslist two or three weeks ago. The owner of the building said that a man had just sort of abandoned the business, a coffee shop. There is a kitchen equipped for making sandwiches. We’ll have to put in a Vent-A-Hood and a dishwasher. We want to put in a bar.

R.I.: Do you have investors for this project?

Jason: So far no backers or investors. Our friends are going to build the bar. It pays to network.

Rebecca: Sometimes something just feels right. We’ll be pioneers.

R.I.: When will Three Angels open?

Rebecca: We would like to get it done by September because that’s a good month.

Jason: But we’re not going to give a date because there’s a lot to do. We don’t want to be specific. It looks awful in there now, hunter green and faux finishes and filled with junk.

R.I.: Full-bar? Wine list?

Jason: I think we’re just going with beer.

PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
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