Brooklyn vegan cafe owner and Eater Young Gun (‘19) Francesca Chaney has an ambitious new restaurant up her sleeves. The 23-year-old chef behind Bushwick’s Sol Sips will expand beyond the tight fast-casual space she’s in right now to open an “experimental” dining venue that’ll combine music, art, and food under one roof.
Chaney opened her casual vegan restaurant just last year, and now, she’s getting ready to bring a second business to the neighborhood called First Sunday. It’ll be a full-service restaurant around the corner from Sol Sips, with room for 40 to 50 diners, plus a small performance stage — much bigger than the 300-square-foot restaurant she runs now. It opens in July, at a to-be-announced address.
The idea is to offer a restaurant where music and art go hand-in-hand with food, says Chaney. “I’ve always wanted to have a full-service restaurant that would be able to incorporate art, and I knew coming into Sol Sips that that was going to be the plan in the long run,” she says.
First Sunday meals-plus-art will likely run from Thursday to Sunday and be by reservation only. Each will last two hours and may be different than the next. Diners will choose their dishes before coming into the restaurant, and once seated the night of, everyone will be served at once. The cuisine will be meat-free, like at Sol Sips, but here Chaney is aiming for soy-free, too.
On Monday through Wednesday, the restaurant may operate regularly, with an a la carte and walk-ins welcome, though the music and art will still be involved in one way or another. The logistics are still fuzzy, though Chaney says she’ll be heavily relying on feedback from diners to shape what the final product will look like.
At her restaurant Sol Sips, she’s become known as a promoter of wellness for all, an effort to be different from trendy vegan fare that’s developed a reputation for selling whiteness and thinness. Chaney prices her vegan menu affordably to make it accessible to everyone in the neighborhood; she aims to do the same at First Sunday, though she hasn’t crunched all the numbers yet.
Chaney is also known as a big supporter of her local Bushwick community and wants First Sunday to serve as a platform for emerging artists, especially people of color, she says. She’s already in talks with some who will create “experiences that reflect what it means to be in fellowship and be in community.”
Plus, she’ll plans to bring on more chefs to help her navigate the much larger kitchen, and she’s first looking to Bushwick for potential candidates, too.
“My inspiration is just coming from community [and] honoring the fact that there’s so many ideas that are within Bushwick from artists and creatives that are looking for a space,” she says. “We’re just making it something for the people, by the people.”