Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 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 4 • 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 • M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 8 DETROIT'S NEW GRAND DAME looked at me like I was crazy," he says. Aparium was ultimately awarded the RFP in 2013, taking the title to the icon- ic 1929 neoclassical brick building as well as the adjacent Pontchartrain Wine Cellars building on a prominent down- town corner. That same year, Detroit's financial crisis came to a head, and the city became the largest in the nation's history to file Chapter 9 bankruptcy. "Getting financing to develop and build anything in Detroit at the time was really tough, but we stuck with it and ultimately were rewarded," Kitchen says. "What we thought would be 7 to 10 years for Detroit to turn the corner actually took 3 to 5 years. Developers began transform- ing the city, artists and craftspeople got involved and energized, and a wave of gentrification was building that we wanted to embrace and be a part of." For Detroit, By Detroit At its core, The Foundation Hotel and Apparatus Room project is a love letter to Detroit and to the city's burgeoning collaborative and artistic culture. Nearly every aspect of it — from the coffee and beer served to the uniforms, custom wallpaper, lighting and headboards — is locally made, locally sourced, locally sal- vaged. All told, the design and develop- ment team collaborated with more than 45 Detroit-based groups and artisans to create what Kitchen says has become Aparium's flagship property. "The Apparatus Room is probably the cleanest, purest positioning that we have for any of our restaurants," Kitchen says. "It's iconic, polished New Ameri- can, which is something we felt the city was missing. And everything we did here was influenced by our surroundings. We didn't want to come in and slap a luxury hotel and restaurant in Detroit that meant nothing to Detroit in one of the city's most meaningful buildings." Designed by Michigan-based McIntosh Poris Associates and Simeone Deary Design Group, whose co-owner, Gina Deary, hails from Detroit, The Apparatus Room anchors the five-story, 95,000-square-foot building and is the project's heart and soul. "From the beginning, it was always going to be a restaurant with a hotel and not the other way around," Deary notes. "There are 100 guest rooms, which of course generate revenue, but Aparium always focused on the restaurant as the element that would bring the project to- gether. As we conceptualized the design, we wanted to reflect the very collabora- tive nature of Detroit in part by creating a space that's open and integrated. The first floor is a lobby, a bar, a kitchen and a restaurant that all flow together. It has almost a kind of living-room feel." As adaptive reuse of an historical landmark property, the team also needed to leave the basic structure alone and make as much use as possible of what the original building had to offer. The large red fire doors were re- furbished, were repainted their original firehouse red and can be hitched open to frame large glass windows through which The Apparatus Room glows at night. One of the doors serves as the entry, leading via vintage red carpet to a small reception desk area surrounded by Above: Located on the mezzanine, the Chef's Table is a combination demonstration kitchen and 16-seat communal table where Executive Chef Tom Lents and/ or visiting chefs present ticketed, multi-course menus. Image courtesy of Nathan Kirkman A smoke-like custom light installation made from white fabric twisted and stretched over a metal frame pays homage to the building's origins. Image courtesy of Sal Rodriguez

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