Jay and Christine Wisniewski of Caffe Boa Think You Should Be Drinking All-Natural Wine
Jay and Christine Wisniewski
Lauren Saria Jay and Christine Wisniewski, the couple behind Tempe's Caffe Boa.
Caffe Boa on Mill
There are two Caffe Boas in this town and unless you've been here for a while, the history might be a little fuzzy. They both claim to be the "original" restaurant but if there's one undeniable fact in their complicated histories, it's that the restaurant on Mill Avenue opened in 1994 -- though at a different location then where it sits now -- while the Ahwatukee iteration opened in 1995.
Jay and Christine Wisniewski are the couple behind the 20-year-old Caffe Boa in Tempe and as they tell it, Ahwatukee owner Scott Rennard is a former business partner and friend with whom things went sour. The couple split ways with Rennard but sold him the rights to the Caffe Boa name for use at the Ahwatukee location only. And ever since, the two restaurants have had nothing in common except their monikers.
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When it comes to running the restaurant the Wisniewskis split the duties almost right down the middle with Jay overseeing the menu and kitchen, while Christine runs things at the bar. They're both involved with the front of the house management.
Lauren Saria Inside Caffe Boa's bar.
The first incarnation of Caffe Boa was a 7-table "hole in the wall next to Long Wongs" on 7th Street and Mill Avenue, Jay says. They stayed at that location for 10 years before moving to the current space inside the historic Casa Loma building on the north end of Mill Avenue. Another ten years have passed -- the Wisniewskis just signed another ten year lease -- and with the anniversary comes a $250,000 renovation of the restaurant space.
The changes include updating the interior of the restaurant to create a modern, farmhouse feel with brushed metal, reclaimed wood, and chicken wire accents. They're also redoing the private dining areas, updating the bar, and renovating the bathrooms. They've revamped the menu as well, adding a few new dishes like Coniglio Pljukanci, a handmade pasta dish from Christine's native country of Croatia.
"You have to evolve," Jay says of the changes. "If you don't stay with it, you get passed over."