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Interview with Katrina Jazayeri of Juliet

The Glossary, Nov 13, 2017

Every detail of Juliet, from the extraordinary, seasonal menu, to the warm but professional service, the European homey décor, to the fairly novel equity based business model are all the intentional creation of Proprietor Katrina Jazayeri and her partner, Chef Joshua Lewin. The two opened their first restaurant together in February 2016 after individual accolades and years in the industry.  And culinary commentators have taken note, including Bon Appetit’ “America’s Best New Restaurants” in 2016, “Best of Boston 2017” by the Boston Magazine and “Winner, Boston’s Best” by the Improper 2017.

Eater Boston said it best perhaps, in their 2016 Boston Awards, which Juliet won, naturally. "In a neighborhood full of gems, the new, cozy Juliet sparkles brighter by the day, the ideal example of what a true neighborhood spot can be."

But I wanted to understand Katrina’s story, her ever present energy and the origins of this unique restaurant, in what is increasingly becoming a high end design area of Somerville’s ever hip Union Square. I sat down with Katrina to chat about how she and Josh created this expression of their beliefs for us all to taste and experience, and perhaps, be inspired to do some good of our own in world.

Julianne Gauron : First off, who is Juliet?

Katrina Jazayeri : Juliet is actually me, my middle name is Juliet. We knew this was going to be very personal for us. We wanted to reflect that in the name. Josh will joke his middle name is David, and it is not quite as European as Juliet, so I won out to that.

JG : How did your background and education [outside the traditional restaurant channels] inform the creation and model of Juliet?

KJ : My degree is in community activism, with a specific healthcare inequality focus, and through that I found my way into food being the basis of health and then taking a step back even further to the root cause of health problems being economic. Well, you have to address the economics before you can address...personal consumption of food.   

After college I worked at a social entrepreneurship incubator in Santa Clara that was focused on engineers and developing world companies.  The concept of social enterprise, where you deliver a product that in and of itself is good, but then the sale of that product and the production of it can also have peripheral benefits to so many people inside and to the community you are delivering it to - so I thought I wanted to have a business that improves a community somehow.  

So from freshman year of college, I thought, I’m going to become a doctor, and cure what ails Africa and have a global impact, but if I were to define success now– if our employees can put their children through college, that is success to me.  If we have people with us long term, that we can impact their lives beneficially, then that’s success.  

And I wanted to do something that makes me happy every day because I want to do it forever.  I didn’t want to have the money making period of my life and then this is the part that I enjoy. I can do something for 70 years if I love it...I love having dinner parties, and hosting people-–so if I can figure out a way to make an impact doing that then I will be happy and do a good job and inspire people to have similar [goals.]

Turning an eye toward what you can do for your surroundings, I think, is ultimately fulfilling, even if you don’t set out with that goal.

JG : For those of us unfamiliar with this new model, can you explain the economics of Juliet? Is it a part of the Fair Wage campaign?

KJ : To set the stage, in Restaurants, you can have a “tipped wage,” [meaning] you are able to be paid by your employer's sub minimum wage.  So for a server in a restaurant the minimum wage is really $3 an hour, with the idea that tips make up the difference.

The One Fare Wage Campaign is to do away with that [the tipped wage.]  There should be a minimum wage, and it is particularly relevant in restaurants because there has been a subclass of servers, who take on all the risk, and they don’t even really work for you [the restaurant,] they really work for the diners.

So that is a component of what informed our decision to not have tips here.  Because if we remove that, and we don’t have any tipped workers, then legally we have to pay people a certain amount.  And because minimum wage is not a livable wage, we were looking for strategies to be able to increase [their income] and so that is where the open book management and profit sharing come in.  Rather than getting a tip at the end of your shift, you have access to a bonus on a quarterly basis.  

There’s a lot of work to be done in that space, and we’re excited to be one of the only places in Boston addressing both issues.  

The power to make decisions like that is what drew me to be a business owner.  

Having the purchasing power, to think about the implications of our actions, and to train a small but growing team of people to do the same is important, and hopefully will be impactful.

 
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Gear Gift: Tanner Goods SLR Camera Strap

October 31, 2017
MISADVENTURES MAGAZINE For Outside x Gear

I always aim to carry my camera, but more often than not I don’t because it’s too bulky. But, the subtle ergonomic cut of the Tanner Goods SLR Camera Strap means I’m comfortable hefting that weight around. The design, coupled with the security of the strap, makes it well worth the cost—particularly if you carry a pricy camera.

I have owned this strap for three month and gotten into the habit of slinging my camera over my shoulder as I head out the door, the weight of my Nikon nicely distributed by the strong cut of vegetable tanned leather. A modest downside is that the durable strap doesn’t pack down as well as some less burly cloth straps, but it does fit nicely in the more spacious Tanner Goods Camera bag.

I will admit that it took me some serious consideration and googling to understand how to put the strap onto my camera rings initially. Perhaps it is easier for others, but once you figure out that the lowest rivets on the straps allow for the leather to slide off of the top of them, creating a small removable section of leather before the nylon cord, then it is easy to connect the nylon cord to your camera rings before these sections to the main strap by the rivets. Because the SLR Camera Strap disconnects from the nylon cords easily, you can disconnect the strap from the camera quickly when using a tripod, if that’s your thing.

Like so much long term gear, the SLR Camera Strap has taken some breaking in. Much like the removable cord rivet system, it’s elegant but a bit challenging when the strap is new.

Still, I am sure this strap will last me through my entire photographic career and is in it with me for the long haul. I highly recommend this classy piece as a gift for any photography loving Misadventurer.

SLR Camera Strap, Black, $130.00

 
 
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Teton Gravity Challenge, Paradise Waits

 
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Woolrich x Topo Klettersack in Geronimo Jacquard

January 5, 2017
MISADVENTURES MAGAZINE

There is something so comforting about a wool blanket, in any form, and when you take that essence of comfort and love, and put it into a Topo backpack with all the functionality that entails, you want to take it everywhere, well, like a kid with that security blanket.  But the Klettersack pack comes with a bit more functionality than carrying around your favorite blanket.

The Geronimo Jacquard colorway, with it’s warm body colors, black body facing technical fabric and buttery leather details is the newest addition to join the Woolrich X Topo Klettersack collaboration.  But I feel this may be the most versatile and covetable colorway yet.  With warm but neutral hues, high end leather detailing, Woolrich’s rich history, and Topo building the pack with enough adjustability and rugged construction to feel technical in Colorado, while effortlessly urbane, this pack literally calls out for fall and winter use.  But because it is not overbuilt, while being highly functional, and the textile is a classic, I’m pretty sure that this pack will flow seamlessly into spring and summer outings on bike, beach, trail and daily use across the city.

 

 

Banff Mountain Film Festival In Review 2016

March 1, 2016
MISADVENTURES MAGAZINE

According to Somerville Theatre’s Hermitlake organizer, Paul Fitzpatrick Nager, the film The Search for Freedom sets the tone for the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour 2016.

This action-packed film, showing some of the brightest stars of our adrenaline-chasing age, overlaid with a beautiful narrative, results in a somewhat jarring juxtaposition that still manages to express powerful wisdoms about the peace and freedom we all seek as we escape into ourselves and our sport. It’s like watching someone cliff-jumping while hearing Buddhist teachings — but if you’re an outdoor sports enthusiast, you know that this is just what the followers of this path seek. This balance between panic and enlightenment where one might just find release.

 

And the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour always selects films that merge adrenaline highs with awe and a gesture toward enlightenment — sometimes they do it beautifully, sometimes stunningly, other times less successfully. Either way, the films bring us into the worlds of these athletes and nature seekers.

The 2015-2016 world tour continues the outdoor film industry’s efforts to include more diverse films. In terms of race, there is still a long way to go, but there were several women-made or women-focused films this year. Operation Moffat, Bluehue, Women’s Speed Ascent, Project Mina, Pretty Faces and Climbing Ice all feature women in the outdoors, owning it in the way we know we can. Here are some of our highlights from this years’ selections.

Angel Collinson, the first female ever be nominated for, and then also win the Powder Awards “Best line of the year” award took home the 2015 Award for her line in Teton Gravity Research’s film Paradise Waits. A gnarly, cliffy sheer drop of a line in Alaska which she stuck firmly, and for which she was selected by a panel of ski industry judges over male pro ski competitor’s lines for the win. Angel is a champion in big mountain skiing, a beast to watch in the best sense, and that she is a woman taking it all on is just icing! (If you have doubts about her prowess, watch her 2015 1,000 foot-tomahawking fall and her chilled out reaction.)

Climbing Ice: The Iceland Trifecta, while a bit over the top, and as much about photographer Tim Kemple as the skillful climbing of world champion ice climber, Klemen Premrl and top European female ice climber, Rahel Schelb, is good sugary outdoor eye candy. The humor, artistry through challenging, even impossible maneuvers, and deep passion for the sport they exhibit as they explore the playground Iceland presents in the form of ice cave, moulins and icebergs makes the film worthwhile, even if we the viewers have to clamber over Tim’s ego to enjoy it.

Women’s Speed Ascent is a kick ass, take no prisoners outdoors film in the best sense of the word. Mayan Smith-Gobat and Libby Sauter literally hurl themselves against the women`s speed record for the ascent of the Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and take us with them. “I mean, certainly … you’d be ignorant to say we are not taking risks…,” is the opening, and the two are relentless, with only occasional amusingly familiar self critic reminding us that these two fierce, unbounded athletes are female. That they are us — and yet so much to aspire to as they demolish the wall! At the closing of the film, the theatre erupted into applause and whoops; I look forwards to more films like this. I only wish it were longer.

The feature length film, Unbranded, while with nary a female in sight, except Donquita the spunky donkey, paints a beautiful portrait of four young men trying to uncover themselves and their place in the world by reclaiming the modern American west with eighteen tamed mustangs. With their ragtag herd, they ride from Mexico to Canada (a longstanding dream of this author, I will admit.) It is not an easy ride, or one without loss, but it is worthwhile.

 

Homes For the Holidays

MISADVENTURES MAGAZINE

December 24, 2015

Late December I received an urgent email on a Saturday afternoon while sitting in a design talk at MIT. PAWs New England, an extraordinary group that rescues dogs out of high kill shelters in the south and brings them to the north, needed an emergency transport driver on Tuesday.

The trip from Memphis to New Hampshire was 1,350 miles and would involve four animals, although the van was later described “not unlike a raft leaving the Titanic” so that number was bound to go up. The transport needed get underway in 72 hours so that the animals could make it to New England for the holidays. Is it possible for you to go? they asked.

Within minutes, my mind was made up. I can’t resist an adventure or a good cause, and PAWs holds a special place in my heart: my dog, Mia, was my “foster failure,” the joking term for a happily adopted foster animal. (As I was no longer able to foster I continued to volunteer as a photographer in the extensive network that is the lifeblood of organizations like PAWs.) It was close to Christmas and most people were busy, but I took the call as an opportunity to go big and embrace the holiday spirit. While the logistics were complicated, the choice easy.

The intricate machinery of the whole ordeal clicked into gear almost immediately: flights, vans, routes, and travel advice all swirling in my head. Like so many groups bringing animals from shelters to safety for a chance at a new life, PAWs is an extremely organized network of volunteers all over the east. As my mother said, critical groups like this create an Underground Railroad for dogs. Given the current kill rates in many shelters — as high as 80-98% — the name is not far off.

I arrived in Memphis on Tuesday evening to attend a volunteer dinner and was swept into the rescue world of the south: intense, harsh, and moving. Originally, I was told I would drive four animals north, but Kelly, the co-founder of PAWs had warned me that there might be more. Even so, standing before my Christmas-red mini van on Wednesday morning observing 12 animals in crates being loaded in with Jenga gamesmanship expertise, I was a bit shocked.

The final count (which I repeated throughout the trip for fear of losing an animal along the way as fatigue bore down) was eight puppies, two dogs, two kittens, a partridge and a pear tree. My crew traveled all the way up to New Hampshire, a total of 1,350 miles, with the goal of finding each creature a home for Christmas.

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