Chef and co-owner Jason Scholz describes his new restaurant, Stella’s Southern Brasserie, as a little black dress — it’s versatile, appropriate for almost any occasion, can move from day to night with ease, and classically alluring.
“It’s understated elegance,” Scholz says of the space with neutral grays, dark wood tones, white subway tile, traditional brasserie tile flooring, and windows around the entire exterior that give the space an open airy feel. The eye-catching, black-and-white stenciled walls of the private dining room provide a hint of whimsy with a modern edge.
“We want people to have fun here. It’s going to get loud,” Scholz says, acknowledging the deliberate lack of tablecloths and textiles that would normally help dampen the sound.
Versatility is evident in all aspects of the restaurant, set to open March 28 at 340 Rocky Slope Road in the Verdae development’s master-planned neighborhood overlooking Legacy Park. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as weekend brunch. Regular foot traffic from residents and businesses is expected.
Stella’s Southern Brasserie, Parkside Provisions, and Café, which is the full name, is part coffee shop, serving Counter Culture Coffee; breakfast spot, featuring pastries from sous chef Becca Barnett of Charleston; a lunch café with a retail component featuring grab-and-go prepared foods from Stella’s and other local purveyors designed to be taken home or to the park across the street; and a French-influenced dinner destination with an ever-changing menu and beverage selections, including local and international beers on tap that will be paired to the dishes.
“It’s a lot,” Scholz says. “But it’s a cool opportunity.”
Versatility was also a major factor in securing the executive chef that will oversee operations of the new Stella’s while Scholz and his wife and business partner, Julia, spend the majority of their time at the original Stella’s Southern Bistro in Simpsonville.
“I needed to find somebody who I knew because it requires a lot of trust,” Scholz says. “I needed somebody who could not just cook but could come in from day one and manage people and train them.”
Scholz found such a leader in chef Jeff Kelly, who is no stranger to the Greenville culinary scene, working 10 years ago as sous chef at the former 33 Liberty, saucier at Devereaux’s, and most recently as the executive chef with the Peace Center, and whom Scholz knew of from his days in Charleston in the late ’90s.
“It was love at first sight,” Scholz says, describing the first and only interview he held for the position. “Jeff’s a great asset to the dining scene in Greenville.”
In between the Greenville-area stints, Kelly ventured north in 2009 to gain experience working in Washington, D.C., kitchens when his wife landed a position as a curator for the White House. Along with working in the White House under chef Cris Comeford, Kelly also worked his way up from chef de partie at Vidalia to executive sous chef at Bistro Bis to chef de cuisine at Cure Bar and Bistro in the Grand Hyatt.
Kelly recalls then-senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton stopping in for lunch at Bistro Bis, which saw frequent congressional traffic because of its location on Capitol Hill.
Working in a large metropolitan area allowed Kelly to not only broaden his skill set — he began using a sous vide and experimenting with molecular gastronomy — but also build his managerial capabilities.
In July 2014, Kelly ended up back with his Devereaux’s boss, chef Steven Greene, who had moved on to AN New World Cuisine in Cary, N.C. There, Kelly served as executive sous chef and added Asian cuisine to his resume.
“At Devereaux’s we always joked that we were a bunch of white guys playing with Asian food,” Kelly says.
But at AN, an Asian fusion restaurant, Kelly honed his skills, which he will bring to Stella’s Brasserie.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun during brunch,” he says. “Vietnamese cooking is all based on French cuisine.”
In August 2015, Kelly moved back to Greenville with his family, which now includes two girls, to be near his in-laws, and took a Peace Center job overseeing all food-related aspects. But he jumped at the chance to work with the Scholzes when the opportunity arose.
While the new concept will have similarities to the original Simpsonville restaurant — it’ll focus on sourcing all of its ingredients locally and regionally — Stella’s Southern Brasserie will have its own identity.
“We say it’s like two different siblings from the same parents,” Scholz says. “The restaurants would be too similar if I was the chef at both.”
Kelly says he and Scholz have filled scads of legal pads with recipes. Some have made the cut, while others will get tossed or reworked.
But as to an actual menu, Kelly has a general idea: There will be a large fromage program that will pull cheeses from local and regional sources; features will change daily, including a pot du jour; house-made jams and pickles will be a mainstay; and seafood, including fresh oysters, and likely a fruits de mer, will be prevalent.
The daily changing menu will have ingredients listed with each dish but not an extensive explanation.
“I want it to be a little unexpected when the food shows up,” Kelly says. “I want people to be surprised.”
For dinner reservations, call 864-626-6900.