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As a native New Yorker, Jeffrey Beers was introduced to the Plaza hotel early on...
Nicholas Tamarin -- Interior Design, 9/1/2010 1:55:00 PM
firm: jeffrey beers international
As a native New Yorker, Jeffrey Beers was introduced to the Plaza hotel early on. "I probably shouldn't say this, but I will anyway," the architect confides. "I was hanging out there, at Trader Vic's, when I was a teenager in the mid-70's. I'd take my girlfriends. It would be loud and cool, and there'd be tropical drinks with little umbrellas."
A lot has changed since then. Trader Vic's was shuttered in 1989, and the hotel's current owner, Elad Properties, has completed a three-year, $450 million renovation and condominium conversion. During that process, Elad approached Jeffrey Beers International and celebrity chef Todd English about turning basement space near the Trader Vic's location into a restaurant modeled on a European food hall.
Beers jumped at the chance. His portfolio already included the update of another iconic hotel, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. But not the Plaza, the 1907 landmark that's been home to the mischievous Eloise, the dashing Cary Grant, and even the Beatles on their first U.S. tour. Beers also had experience designing three restaurants for English, in Las Vegas, Mississippi, and Florida. By now, the pair have known each other for 15 years.
"I know what Todd is thinking, and he knows what I'm thinking. Before we say it, like a married couple," Beers says. English, for his part, adds that Beers "just gets it."
Nevertheless, he had his work cut out for him with the space that would become the Plaza Food Hall by Todd English-buried, as it is, next to a widely panned luxury retail area. He began by carving up the 5,400 square feet into restaurant and retail stations: seafood, grill, pizza and salad, dumplings and noodles, wine and tapas, sushi, cheese and charcuterie, gourmet grocery, and a bakery and sweet shop.
Blending in with the rest of the Plaza, the materials palette is classically opulent, but it's filtered through a contemporary lens to attract a new generation of visitors. Slim stools are wrapped in leather, woodwork is espresso-stained oak, and counters are Carrara marble slabs. The floor is marble mosaic tile in a black-and-white interlocking ring pattern loosely based on the joined C's of the Chanel logo-a motif that repeats on such elements as the pendant drum fixtures throughout and the faux skylight above the seafood station.
To differentiate the stations-as well as out of culinary necessity-Beers added attention-grabbing colors and textures to each. Subway tile of Dijon-mustard yellow marks the grill, while the glazed brick of the pizza oven is tomato red. The dumpling-noodle station has a tangerine resin hood and a wall lacquered persimmon as a backdrop for simple white vases holding handfuls of black chopsticks.
Beers is known for his glassblowing, and some of the lighting bears witness to his skill. His amber-colored teardrop sconces, affixed to mirrored columns, join a run of pendant globes above the wine bar. These incandescent fixtures supplement the halogens overhead, casting a flattering old-time glow on the patrons filling the 80 seats: prosperous-looking tourist families interspersed with a smattering of locals in business attire.
Elad executive vice president Kristin Franzese, who runs the Food Hall, notes that it "feels like it's always been here." Yet there's nary a mai tai in sight.
Photography by Eric Laignel.
SUR LA TABLE: BLACK BOWLS.
PEARL RIVER: STEAMERS.
PACIFIC CLAY: OVEN BRICK (PIZZA STATION).
WALKER ZANGER: WHITE, BROWN WALL TILE.
ARTISTIC TILE: YELLOW WALL TILE.
JAMALI FLORAL & GARDEN SUPPLIES: VASES (DUMPLING-NOODLE STATION).
3FORM: SKYLIGHT MATERIAL (SEAFOOD STATION).
TOWN & COUNTRY FLOORING: WALL TILE.
PLANTATION DESIGN: PENDANT GLOBES (WINE BAR).
NEIDHARDT: CUSTOM SCONCES, PENDANT FIXTURES.
GAYLORD INDUSTRIES: HOODS.
CARVART: COLUMN SURFACING.
BENJAMIN MOORE & CO.: PAINT.
FOCUS LIGHTING: LIGHTING CONSULTANT.
RPI INDUSTRIES: WOODWORK.
RG GLASS CREATIONS: METALWORK.
STONE WORKS CONSTRUCTION: STONEWORK.
CERTIFIED OF NEW YORK: GENERAL CONTRACTOR.