Restaurant Development & Design

JAN-FEB 2018

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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5 6 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 "We knew we wanted to purchase a space and do a full development. It had to make sense both from a real estate investment standpoint and from a restaurant business standpoint," Callero says. "There wasn't much listed for sale, so we literally hit the streets. We went around the neighborhood, checked out all of the old meatpacking buildings and started cold calling. When we walked into this building and saw the grandiose high ceilings, we were completely drawn in and knew it was the space for us." The building had sat vacant for 10 years. It had most recently been home to the Chromium nightclub, which shut down in 2007 after a weekend night ended with the murder of a patron just outside. Built in 1939, it had also at one time been a printing shop, accord- ing to Callero. Purchased by Sancerre in June 2015, the building measures roughly 10,000 square feet. Even though it had been a nightclub, there wasn't much that the Sancerre team could use. Ultimately, it was completely gutted and reimagined. It now provides 220 seats over two levels connected by a grand, curved staircase. The ground floor holds the main din- ing room and a small bar/lounge area that extends along the back wall from the base of the staircase. Upstairs, a mezzanine provides additional dining and lounge seating, and the separate Champagne Room functions as a flexible space for dining, drinking and private functions. Luxe On a Budget "The first year was spent just working with our GC and with Karen, think- ing about what we were going to build, developing the floor plan, etc.," Callero says. "Once we actually got going on construction, it took about eight months. The whole process seemed really long, but because it was our first restaurant, we wanted to take our time and do it right. We had a lot of questions and were very involved. It's definitely a start-up, but when you're in the space, it doesn't look or feel like a start-up." That's thanks in large part to Herold, the design force behind several award-winning operations in Chicago, Las Vegas and Aspen, Colo. As projects go, Herold says BLVD was architecturally the most dif- ficult she's done to date. Despite starting with what seemed like a fairly simple space, the concept and the design vision for it required symmetry. "There's a lot of formality to the de- sign, but the building really didn't offer that because of columns, etc.," Herold says. "You're working with an existing structure and a limited budget, so we definitely had to be thrifty, but the look we achieved is way more than the budget would assume." The look is pure, understated luxe. Shimmery gold and mirrored finishes, muted colors, low lighting, and multiple large crystal chandeliers suspended over plush circular booths and velvet- covered chairs stand out against stained black oak tabletops and dark flooring. Banquettes and semi-private booths are tucked under arches against softly lit, hand-scraped plaster walls along both sides and the front wall of the space. The softly textured plaster, an economi- cal solution in a custom hue that Herold describes as "eggplant-ish," also has a touch of gold leaf blended in to provide a hint of warmth and shimmer. "To create this amount of seats and at the same time provide a sense of luxury was a very complicated process," Herold adds. "Ultimately, we took the approach of creating a lot of niches as a way to create intimacy and to hit a balance between giving real estate to luxury and giving real estate to more dining seats. Every decision was made from both a business and an experiential standpoint." Deco-style "curtain walls" made of two layers of polymer material frame the dining room, providing visual inter- est and texture. To lend just the right amount of visibility, the grooves on the outer wall are a different size than those on the inner layer. "We talked at least 50 hours about getting the exact amount of 'draping' in those walls and tested six or eight samples," Herold says. "We were very picky in how much you can see through, so if you look from the inside out, you can see that the two layers aren't exactly the same. That's by design, to control the visuals." Another major point of discussion during the project was BLVD's signature staircase, which sweeps in a continuous curve from upstairs down to the main level and pulls around in a single ribbon to become the bar, ultimately swirling around to end at a large illuminated liquor tower. "I knew right away that the space needed a great staircase," Herold says. "The whole design concept started with The second-level Champagne Room layers on the glam with more gold. Image courtesy of Kailley Lindman BLVD GLOWS WITH GOLDEN-AGE GLAMOUR

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