If you're going to open a restaurant that specializes in gospel music, who do you call to book? Crystal Aikin, of course.
So it's a good thing that Steven Ling, who plans on opening Stephanie's Gospel and Jazz in downtown Tacoma sometime in mid to late September, is close friends with Aikin. She was one of the first people he called once he got the keys to the restaurant space. He also called musician Michael Powers. "(Michael) said let me know when you open up, I'll be there," said Steven when I talked to him on the phone a few minutes ago.
The location for Stephanie's is a familiar one for restaurants. It's the old La Costa restaurant at 928 Pacific Avenue. Another restaurant had a short life there. Gringo de loco closed in May after being open for about a week.
Steven stumbled on the location while downtown with business partners. "I was down here for a meeting with a few business associates. I was parked right outside the restaurant. I said, 'Let's go eat.' I saw the 'for lease' sign and I thought it made sense. I called the guy (leasing it) right then and I met him down there that Sunday. I walked through the place. He was just talking, but I tuned him out. I was looking and seeing what it could be. I said, I want it," Steven said.
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Ling has a background in restaurants. He worked the kitchen at Djembe Soul, a restaurant formerly on Commerce Street (near Galanga Thai). He also says he was an investor in Djembe, but it was one of those ventures that was not meant to be. Lessons learned, of course.
So how about the food at Stephanie's? It'll be eclectic, Steven said. He'll draw on his foundation of Southern food (his aunt and uncle owned a southern restaurant in Long Island and he grew up eating and cooking there). He'll also have Italian food on the menu. The restaurant will be full service with a bar.
Watch here for an update as Steven gets closer to opening.