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May 31, 2024

After nearly 2 years of planning, an intimate French restaurant nears its opening in Headhouse Square

Provenance, an 18-seat eatery with Korean influences, is the dream of Nicholas Bazik, a veteran chef of several buzzy Philly establishments.

Food & Drink Restaurants
Provenance restaurant Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Chef Nicholas Bazik's new restaurant will be located at 408 S 2nd St., in Society Hill's Headhouse Square. It taking over the space formerly occupied by Xochitl, above.

Nicholas Bazik has cooked in the kitchens of Fork, Kensington Quarters, The Good King Tavern and La Chinesca over his 18 years on the Philly restaurant scene. But now, he's preparing to open a concept all his own, one that he promises is "unlike anything that's in Philadelphia."

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Provenance will take over the space once held by Xochitl at 408 S. Second St. in the Headhouse Square section of Society Hill. The cuisine will be French-forward and seafood-heavy, with some Korean influences. Bazik expects the restaurant to open by July, but he had hoped to launch earlier this year, if not last fall. A number of challenges have delayed the process, which began on Oct. 31, 2022.

"City issues, historical issues, L&I (licensing and inspections)," Bazik said Friday. "The sheer fact that it's a complete gut and rebuild of a 200-year-old space afforded its own issues. So it's just been a complicated process, and it's a very refined space, so I'm not mad that we're taking the time to make sure it's right."

Provenance will offer a tasting menu with an ever-changing array of dishes. The main space will hold just 18 diners, though a private dining room will accommodate another six. Bazik said the intimate setting was crucial to the concept, which he wanted to be a one-of-its-kind experience for both the employees and customers.

"You get above a certain threshold ... the joy within the space is compromised," he said. "The amount of seats is so important to me, because that's the limit to the diners' experience and attention of detail that I want to be able to deliver.

"Having something that is controllable and intentional, as far as how the guests can interact with the staff and the staff can interact with the guests, I know that I'm going to have guests that want to dine in the space and a staff that ultimately wants to work there."

As the name would imply, Provenance will focus on sourcing high-quality ingredients. Some of them will be ones typically found in a French restaurant, while others will draw from Bazik's own pantry, which is full of Korean products his in-laws bring overseas each year.

"You're not going to go here thinking you're getting a fancy version of bibimbap," Bazik clarified. "But I'll use Korean-style miso. That's what I mean. It's built into the repertoire of the restaurant based off of the ingredients that I'm using." 

According to the chef, Provenance is in the final phase of construction, with only finishes and lingering duct work left. While the menu is less final due to its rotating nature, Bazik says there's an "outline that everyone will kind of play with" when the space finally opens — hopefully, about 600 days after he started.

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