Jianna is now under new ownership.
As of Feb. 1, the Italian restaurant and oyster bar at Falls Park Place in downtown Greenville is owned entirely by Jianna head chef Michael Kramer. The news of the restaurant going independent of the Table 301 Restaurant Group was announced to Jianna staff by Kramer and Table 301 Founder and President Carl Sobocinski at a meeting on Tuesday Feb. 4.
“We made sure what we’ve built for everyone at Jianna doesn’t change,” Sobocinski said. “This is a talented crew with the right mindset. Service and food quality won’t change, so we can assure everyone that Jianna will be flying high for a long time.”
Jianna is the third Table 301 restaurant to go independent or announce plans to go independent from the restaurant group in the past year alone. Last March, Papi’s Tacos on the Reedy River shifted ownership over to Jorge “Papi” Barrales, and Passerelle Bistro at Falls Park is in the process of transitioning ownership to its current general manager Mike Minelli.
Sobocinski won’t deny what seems to be a recent pattern.
“There is a pattern, sure, but it’s a pattern of wanting to help hardworking people become independent entrepreneurs,” he said.
The recent string of restaurants going independent comes as Sobocinski himself eyes what he calls an “exit strategy” – which he stresses does not mean retirement. Instead, he wants to evolve the restaurant group with a focus on uplifting younger potential entrepreneurs, leaving behind a legacy for when he does eventually step back.
“I could keep building the machine up as big as possible, then find some equity firm and sell to someone. Sure, that’s one strategy,” Sobocinski said. “But then I think back to, how is that helping individuals? The way to help the community is to have a whole bunch of entrepreneurs, leaving behind a legacy of people who hopefully share that philosophy as well.”
He said any restaurant in the Table 301 portfolio is now a candidate for going independent, with the exception of Soby’s.
“I’ll never leave Soby’s. I want to be buried in the basement behind the wine cellar,” he said.
Modeling Table 301 as a kind of restaurant incubator, Sobocinski wants to offer rising chefs and entrepreneurs a chance to grow a concept under the umbrella of the restaurant group, eventually letting them take that concept independent on their own. Other ideas, such as using the Soby’s on the Side location as a week-long popup kitchen for chefs to try out new concepts, are also on the table.
Even as Sobocinski admits to wanting to spend more time with his family and working on philanthropic ventures, he says he and Table 301 are not going anywhere.
“I might tomorrow find a building for another concept,” he said. “I still have that same entrepreneurship, that same bug. We’re not stopping anytime soon.”