JP CENTER—Dan and Kristen Valachovic looked like they’ve hit their stride as they prepared for another evening of diners in the Vee Vee bistro at 763 Centre St.
They opened the restaurant, which takes its name from the initials of the owners’ last names, a little more than four months ago. Kristen said the JP couple “has worked out most of the kinks” associated with starting their first restaurant.
“Business has been good, and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from customers,” she said. “People say our place has a good neighborhood vibe. That’s what we want. We’ve lived and worked here a long time and love JP.”
“Actually, this was as much about being in JP as it was about opening the restaurant,” said Dan.
The couple said they plan to parlay over a decade of experience working in JP eateries into success at a location that has had some turnover in past years. Formerly the Cha Fahn Tea Room, and before that the first site of Gadgets, the restaurant sits on the first block of commercial buildings north of the Monument.
Dan once managed Zon’s and the Centre Street Café. Kristen worked at both restaurants and is also a graphic designer for an architectural firm.
“We were at a plateau and knew if we wanted to go any further we had to open our own business,” said Dan.
“Everything just fell into place, from finding the site and fixing it up, to the financing. Our biggest challenge was finding a good chef,” said Kristen, who designed the restaurant in a salmon orange-and-brown motif and opened up more space to seat about 25 patrons.
They said they were lucky to hook up with Seth Morrison, a chef at the Biltmore in Newton who has also served as chef at Perdix in the South End and the East Coast Grill in Cambridge.
Dan described Vee Vee’s cuisine as “seasonal American with a focus on seafood, vegetables and grains. We also have some meat specials, and a great selection of beers and wines, including organic and biodynamic labels.”
“The menu changes a bit every few weeks, but we always try to use local produce and we get all our meat from a small farm in Vermont,” he said, adding, “Seth has a great choice of ingredients.”
“I like to cook simply, putting together ingredients that make sense,” said Morrison. “But I also work with a lot of structure. I look at it like a painter. There’s a background, and the heart of the dish accented with texture.”
The half-dozen appetizers range from $7 (salad of watermelon, cucumber, mint, basil, feta) to $10 (fried green tomatoes, crab salad, corn piccalilli). Six current entrees go from $14 (quinoa croquettes, sweet and hot pickled summer squash, minted yogurt) to $21 (roasted swordfish, caponata, lemon risotto, herb salad).
Takeout is also available, and Kristen said they are interested in doing some art shows in the future.
“Our hope is to become a fixture in the neighborhood where everyone feels welcomed in an intimate setting,” she said.
The bistro’s hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 5:30 to 10 p.m., with Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 522-0145. See www.veeveejp.com for an up-to-date menu, including brunch, desserts and wines.