New Orleans To Experience Second Restaurant Concept By Chefs Michael Stoltzfus And Kristen Essig Early This Summer
The 2019 James Beard Foundation Best Chef South Finalists to deliver thoughtful and intimate neighborhood gathering restaurant in Lower Garden District
NEW ORLEANS (press release) – New Orleans chefs Michael Stoltzfus and Kristen Essig will soon open the doors of their anticipated second concept, thalia. The second concept by the co-owners and chefs of celebrated Coquette is slated to open early this summer and will be an intimate spot for neighbors to enjoy accessible, chef-driven dishes and drinks. The 37-seat restaurant will focus on the wants of their loyal Lower Garden District neighbors, neighbors who have also played a role in deciding design and aesthetic details of the space.
While ever-evolving, thalia’s menus will all be written with five major pillars in mind: quality, comfort, affordability, consistency and sustainability. Each unique menu will be anchored by creative interpretations of familiar snacks, salads, pastas, and hearty proteins; themed “daily rituals” – which the chefs compare to blue plate specials – will range from Tuesday Schnitzel Night to Saturday Steak Night. Offered in limited numbers, the program will show the chefs creativity and flexibility, while also ensuring that ingredients are used in the most efficient manner. thalia’s menu was created to be accessible, not only to neighbors in the Lower Garden District but also to the service industry as a whole. “We want to offer a menu that starts with smaller plates starting at $5 and larger plates in the $17-$22 range,” says Chef Kristen Essig.
The bar program will be equally as accessible, including a thoughtful program of wines by the glass. Through thoughtful planning, sourcing, and pricing, Stoltzfus and Essig hope thalia will be a spot that neighbors can and will visit 2-3 times each week.
“We hope to create a space that neighbors come to take a moment, eat thoughtful meals and enjoy the company of each other,” says Essig. “We are also creating thalia as a way to create creative and leadership opportunities to the young people we employ. Providing platforms for talented employees in order to contribute to our community as a whole.”
Aside from chefs Stoltzfus and Essig, principal players at thalia includes 2019 James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef finalist Ana Castro and Chef Sean Poole. Castro currently serves as one of Coquette’s sous chef and Poole a tenured cook. Both will serve together as thalia’s co-sous chefs.
After opening Coquette in 2008, Stoltzfus received four back-to-back James Beard Foundation Best Chef South Award nominations in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, before Essig joined him at Coquette in fall 2016. Since then, the duo has tacked on another impressive three back-to-back JBF Best Chef South nominations together in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Most recently, The Times-Picayune acknowledged Coquette among the “Top 10 New Orleans Restaurants for 2019.”
Located on 1245 Constance Street in New Orleans, thalia will offer 37 seats inside, 30 of which will be in the restaurant’s dining room and the remaining seven seated at the bar. The interior will use wood elements to warm the quaint space. Working with local craftsmen from Good Wood, dining room seating will be primarily hand-built wooden benches, while the bar will be made from bent and laminated maple slats. Accenting the interior décor will be a commissioned piece by local New Orleans folk artist Devin De Wulf. The painting, 7ft tall and 5ft wide, is inspired by the neighborhood and community of the Lower Garden District and the time that chefs Michael Stoltzfus and Kristen Essig have spent together.
thalia will be open Tuesday through Saturday offering Happy Hour daily from 3 – 5 p.m. and dinner service from 5 – 10 p.m. More opening information and menu details are forthcoming. Follow along now on social media @thalia_nola or visit www.thalianola.com.