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Apr 6, 2010 07:28 AM

Shola's opening a restaurant in the Piazza. Finally. I hope.

I just read on Foobooz that this place is opening:

If you view the HTML source to the page, you'll see this text:

"Speck Food and Wine, at The Piazza at Schmidt's. Chef Shola Olunloyo."

Additionally, a week or two ago there was a post on Shola’s blog (it’s been removed since) that was titled something like “Welcome to Spring”, and the only content of the post was an image identical to the one the Speck site is using as a background.

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    1. re: sockii

      More than nice: outstanding! I once sort of crawled upstairs for one of Shola's special dinners in West Philly, and was hoping he would open a more accessible venue. So, please tell about Piazza at Schmidt;s, as in where this is.

      1. re: Bashful3

        the piazza is one of bart blattstein's new constructs in northern liberties. it has its pluses and minuses, but the outdoor seating in the nice weather = huge plus. it is located on the east side of second street between girard and poplar, more precisely between germantown ave (the end) and laurel? i am very stoked that chef shola is opening a joint there.....can't wait to see the menu.

        other good spots in this neighborhood include swift half, the new dmitri's, bar ferdinand, el camino real, sonata, koo zee doo, kong, north 3rd, the abbeye, standard tap, appolinare, a full plate and ortleib's. there's a nice mix of food in northern liberties, you shoudl go check it out if you haven't taken a good gander yet.

    2. The web site is registered to Shola, though there's no corporate registration yet. In any event, given Shola's history of false starts, I'm hopeful, but not holding my breath on this one.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cruz

        Judging by his the recent announcement on his blog (, it looks like this time it might really be happening. He's soliciting applications for line cook and everything. It sounds like the restaurant will be less formal, a la carte version of studiokitchen, but that a chef's counter will be available for the usual epic prix fixes. Music to my ears!

      2. Reservations are available now for studiokitchen (the 8-person bar inside of Speck) starting in October:

        Just about all the Saturday night spots are gone, but plenty of week night spots remain. Reservations must be pre-paid.

        12 Replies
        1. re: urbanfabric

          I was wondering about the difference in pricing between the weeknight and weekend dinners so I emailed Speck, apparently the Saturday menu will involve more courses and "suprises".

          1. re: Buckethead

            thanks for finding that out, I was curious. decided on a friday night to get in earlier and save $30/head. I suspect it will be surprising to me even without the extra "surprises."

          2. re: urbanfabric

            The whole concept of pre-paying for a reservation at a restaurant, almost 2 months in advance, is certainly unique in Philadelphia. Come to think of it, I've not seen anything like this ANYWHERE. It's not like we're talking about his Studio Kitchen dinners in his home, this is at his restaurant -- Ko doesn't even charge you until the day of the dinner! I'll probably try it out though :-)

            1. re: tbabes

              Sorry, but I'm not pre-paying for a restaurant reso any where, any time. And especially not for a reataurant that's not even open yet.

              1. re: gaffk

                For Shola I would, based on my experiences @ StudioKitchen.

                That said, I am waiting until the frenzy dies down and we get some early reports on how the Speck experience compares.

                1. re: gaffk

                  I see it as pre-paying for an experience, much like someone would pre-pay to sky dive or go on a cruise. Unless, I'm wrong, and all of you who like those sorts of things manage to pay for them after you've returned to the ground/land.

                  I pre-pay for hotels I've never stayed in and airlines that I've never flown on. Sometimes you take a chance and if something goes awry, you work it out with whomever you paid.

                  If all of my clients waited to pay me until their final product was complete and adopted by law, we'd never make payroll, we wouldn't have any paper to print on, and it would be really dark in here...

                  Like sockii said, Shola is not an unknown around here.

                  1. re: urbanfabric

                    Indeed. It's not like they are saying pre-pay for ANY reservation in the restaurant, either - only the StudioKitchen-equivalent chef's tables. I see no problem with asking for a pre-payment for that, if it is at all like the old StudioKitchen dinners which easily the most memorable meals of any I've had in Philadelphia.

                  2. re: gaffk

                    This was bothering me too, and today Shola is answering questions on his blog, so I asked whether there was some policy for refunds on reservation cancellations.


                    His reply was:

                    Mr Buckethead.

                    We really have no interest in cheating anyone or being jerks about it.

                    The way we are handling it is to cultivate a healthy waiting list which is growing daily.

                    IF you book a seat and something comes up that you absolutely have to cancel, you will have exactly 48HRS before the dinner to do so.
                    If you cancel after 48hrs you lose your seat.......and money.

                    If however you want to replace your seat with someone else so you do not lose your money, you can have them pay you for it.

                    If we find someone on our waiting list to take your seat, we will give you a gift card that allows you to re-book at no additional cost since whomever replaces you will be paying for the seat.

                    We are aware that things happen, babies get sick, dogs run away and other natural disasters.
                    We want to be fair to everyone but also have them realize that quick replacements are not guaranteed.

                    On a different note our online reservation system is programmed to immediately recognize if someone is buying up seats on prime days (weekends, holidays) and attempting to sell/auction them at a profit.
                    We will not let them cancel if we find that to be the case.

                    A 48-hour cancellation policy, with a gift card if they can find someone to fill your seat if you have to cancel with less than 48 hours notice, sounds fair enough to me. I think Alinea's cancellation policy requires 48 hours notice as well.

                    1. re: Buckethead

                      Other popular restaurants, like Amada (at least with larger groups) and the Starr pop-ups, require you to give a credit card number when booking. IIRC, most of these places also require 48 hour notice to cancel without penalty. The difference here is that you are required to pay in full in advance. I think this is a bit rude since some people may prefer to pay in cash, split the bill, etc. and I also don't love the idea of someone holding my money for what may be months (time value of money and all that).

                  3. re: tbabes

                    It is a clever way to help fund the build-out of the restaurant.

                    1. re: tbabes

                      Grant Achatz is using the same concept of pre-paying at his new restaurant in Chicago.

                      1. re: Boognish

                        Indeed - and they are doing graded tickets at "NEXT" so that the same meal on Saturday at 7pm costs MORE than a meal on Tuesday at 5pm, for example.

                        I'm not from Philly or Chicago - but I'd pay in advance for either if I had any plans to travel there during a specific time frame.


                  4. Why is there such a big deal about paying in advance?

                    At the original StudioKitchen location, you had to remember to bring cash. At the newer location paying via Paypal was added and that made it more convenient.

                    I coordinate and attend many private dining events, all of which are pre-paid. This helps the restaurant with planning and controlling costs and as long as they are reasonable with their refund policy (72-48 hrs), I see it as being a fair practice.