It is with a special combination of faith and conviction that Big Belly Roti Shopkeeper Tim Phillips–an avid jazz fanatic–applies his engineering skills when designing and creating restaurants and eateries. Always referencing the detailed visions governing his conceptual renditions, Tim views his blank canvas through the triangular prism of vision, harmony and improvisation, the dimensional tools of the traditional jazz artist. An experienced designer of floorplans and layouts, Tim utilizes intuition and improvisation when confronting design challenges. Like a jazz performer, Tim has a unique ability to nimbly turn on a dime when weaving a structural tapestry of industrial strength, spectral hues and natural texture; launching off on an opposing trajectory and creating something truly special in feel, appearance and functionality. This is pure improvisation–the “wow” effect of jazz performance. Then there is the engineer’s talent for blending. As an expert audio and lighting technician, Tim knows the power of the right sensory mix. Studying the resulting composition of sound, color, or material, Tim stands back and takes a long look from afar. His creative mission: to design and deliver a space that beautifully bridges the divide between comfort and stimulation. As the resourceful jazz composer creates and balances tension and harmony through the use of chord progressions, interchanges of major and minor scales and syncopated blue notes. Tim designs gathering spaces rich in elemental variation and combinations. This approach has served Tim well in his past projects that boast multi-dimensional design elements. So why tamper with a successful strategy? Pictured: Tim Phillips (center) reviewing design plans with his BBRS partners Juice Morton and Ronaldo Martin
Tim’s current focus is the construction of the pan-Caribbean eatery, the Big Belly Roti Shop aka BBRS, which sits poised at the apex of culture and style. BBRS is a refreshing culinary and cultural concept that currently is being realized in a brick and mortar restaurant space on Amsterdam Avenue in Harlem, NYC. A neighborhood that itself is experiencing a robust cultural rebirth and transformation reminiscent of its storied renaissance of the 1920’s. Watching Tim work is at once exhausting and mesmerizing. Projecting a stubborn and no-nonsense exterior, Tim consistently wields his expertise with maximum efficiency, high standards and thoughtful design. The results are stunning, inviting and exceptionally artistic. The space under development for BBRS surely will present a jazz-influenced exhibition of dynamic composition, performance, and stylish display. So when you head uptown to the Big Belly Roti Shop, don’t just bring your appetite for sensational Caribbean food but also come in search of all that is jazz. It’s built into the joint, trust me. Pictured: The BBRS Shopkeepers, Martin, Phillips, and Morton
Photos by Ashley Dandridge and Cheryl Martin
Next BBRS Blog Feature: Gangway! Here Comes the Culinary Commander from Tunapuna!