Watch out — there’s a new chef in town.
Or at least there will be come June 1, when Ali and Kevin Cohane, the husband-wife team who own and operate Persephone Bakery and Picnic, open a new restaurant in Wilson’s Westbank Center. The restaurant will go by the same name as their flagship bakery, Persephone, and will offer the same counter-style service as that and Picnic.
Although the new restaurant will continue the casual French-inspired dining tradition of the Cohanes’ first two businesses, the restaurateurs have decided to bring in a head chef to create a dinner menu for the Wilson storefront.
For the Cohanes, making that hire was a long time coming.
“We’ve wanted to do this for years, and, to support the salary of a talented executive chef, we needed to expand,” Ali Cohane said.
Until now, the couple have designed their own menus, which has proved successful, despite Ali Cohane’s insistence that she and her husband are “not chefs by any means.” (Kevin Cohane was trained at the famous school of French cuisine, Le Cordon Bleu.)
The couple have been able to expand from Persephone’s wholesale bakery to the Persephone storefront and, most recently, to Picnic. Those expansions were made possible by the success of the Cohanes’ baked goods at Persephone — everything from muffins to croissants and caramelized kouign-amanns — and their American bistro-style offerings at Picnic.
The new chef will be responsible for continuing those popular traditions while bringing the Wilson location’s dinner menu to life. Though the selection process is ongoing, the Cohanes know they’re looking for someone with ties to Jackson who’s willing to dig in and push the boundaries of the culinary scene.
“We’re talking to young chefs who are starting out their career and looking really to become a part of something with us,” Ali Cohane said. “We’re looking for a partnership in this relationship.”
She and her husband are also focused on making their West Bank location a casual, family-friendly spot. The storefront, which sits on the footprint of an old coffee shop, Elevated Grounds Coffeehouse, will be about three times the size of Persephone Bakery. Cohane hopes the upgrade will attract parents and their kids who have a difficult time finding space in the bakery, which is better suited for twosomes or singles.
“We really hope [the new location] is a place that families want to come brunch on Saturdays and maybe come have dinner with us during the week and just keep it casual,” she said.
To read about Persephone’s expansion, visit JHNewsAndGuide.com/scene.