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Newton Chef to Open New 'Waban Kitchen'

The new eatery, which will replace Kouzina in Waban Square, will have a farm-to-table theme and a cozy, "rustic" feel.

When was exploring locations for a new restaurant, Newton wasn't always a sure bet. 

In fact, Fournier was considering a project somewhere in downtown Boston before talking it over with Mayor Setti Warren, and taking into account the connections he's made here in the Garden City. 

"Newton is a great city to work with, and Mayor Warren was really pro-business with me when I was discussing doing a project in downtown Boston or staying here," says Fournier, a Newtonville resident. "The conversations I had with him were pretty important to staying here in Newton."

Later this year Fournier plans to open up Waban Kitchen, a "rustic," farm-to-table restaurant in Waban Square. The new eatery will replace the Mediterranean restaurant . 

The 46-seat restaurant will have a "Sonoma feel to it," Fournier says, with a decor featuring reclaimed wood and brick. It will also include a new bar, which Fournier said will be part of the cosmetic changes and additions to the Kouzina space. 

"I've been looking at projects for the last two or three years and evaluating what should be next," Fournier says. "It really comes out of wanting to keep my management team moving forward and being able to have people move up in the organization."

Current 51 Lincoln Chef de Cuisine Jakob White will take over as chef de cuisine at the new restaurant, Fournier says. Fernanda Tapia, his current sous chef, will transition into chef de cuisine at 51 Lincoln. 

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As with any new restaurant, Fournier says the challenge with Waban Kitchen will be gaining the public's trust and building a community base. Luckily for Fournier, much of that community and trust will be staying with him as he starts the new venture across town.

"My wife is a teacher here at Cabot School and we live in the Newtonville neighborhood -- we're really building a base for our life here," Fournier says.

The food featured at Waban Kitchen will have "simple, elegant flavors", Fournier said, with dishes like grilled langoustine with lentils and flat iron steak served with bone marrow mashed potatoes.

There will also be wine pairings at the new place, Fournier says. In fact, the local chef would like to have a pairing for each dish so diners can have plates accompanied by a well-matched wine. 

The only dish that will carry over to the new place from will be Fournier's signature Bolognese. Other than that, Fournier is looking to make the Waban eatery a different experience from his restaurant in Newton Highlands.

"I want [Waban Kitchen] to have its own personality," Fournier says. "I'm not looking to have another 51 Lincoln." 

Throughout the business exchange, Fournier says he's developed a good working relationship with Joanna and Nelson Cognac, who have owned Kouzina for a decade and are ready to move on. According to Fournier, the Cognacs are looking to move to the West Coast in the near future.

The business exchange should be finalized sometime in September, he said.

Fournier says he hopes to have the new Waban eatery open by late October. But, if you're itching to try some of the new dishes, you won't have to wait until the fall. Over the next eight weeks, 51 Lincoln will be trying out some of the new Waban Kitchen menu items and specials. 

"[Waban Kitchen] will have very simple, elegant flavors and combinations that surprise you...using only two our three ingredients, but when you put them together it creates something bigger," Fournier says.

contributed to this report.

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