Joshua McFadden's having a busy month.
First, he and his friend and Submarine Hospitality business partner, Luke Dirks, are putting the finishing touches on Tusk, the upcoming Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant slated for East Burnside's old Levant space.
We caught up with McFadden by phone over the weekend to talk about Ava Gene's, Tusk, and his love of farming.
"We're basically re-concentrating efforts on our employees," McFadden told us about what's in store for Ava Gene's. He says this is in part why he's partnered with Smith and promoted Jason Hegedus as the new chef de cuisine at Ava Gene's. "We want to make sure all of our employees are happy—when they're happy, our guests are happy."
Employee perks already include health insurance and day trips to farms, but McFadden said that he and Dirks also want to someday purchase their own farm, which could provide Submarine Hospitality restaurants with their very own supply of vegetables.
"I grew up on farms and managed them," he said. "It's what changed me. To really see up close that seed-to-plate process changes how you think about food." He thinks owning such a farm could inspire his cooks and servers the way it inspired him.
When asked when we can expect to belly up at the seasonal vegetable-happy Tusk, McFadden says sometime in early August. Until then, you can swing by Ava Gene's to try chef Hedegus and McFadden's more accessible (and also vegetable-happy) menu at Ava Gene's, which has lowered a few prices, added additional seating, and dialed in more traditional Italian flavors.
When asked if he has a third project in mind, McFadden laughs that he has "several." But naturally he couldn't share any of those ideas with us just yet.