The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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{ }  85 "We do a lot of work internationally from Dubai or Shanghi, and I make a point to go to lounges to observe people—we are not too different when it comes to food and drink," he says. "And after projects are completed, I still visit them often, especially in Miami and other places in the United States." In a time when guests and locals patronize hotel lounges, considerations include what will make guests want to stick around for meals and cool factor that attracts, not overwhelms. Beers recently completed the mammoth reno - vation of Manhattan's iconic Park Central Hotel, the 1927 Beaux Arts property. The most alarming makeover happened in the lounge, where the original one-story lobby had a low ceiling. Beers removed the second floor, creating an aspirational space. In the unique design, Beers reminds guests that New York is a vertical city. "Locating the bar in the center of the room was the first move to create the heart of the lounge because people love to people watch—and when you're up against a wall, you're not really participating in the room," he says, channel - ing years of sipping his beloved reds in lounges all over the world. "One side of the bar has wonderful views of guests checking in and coming back and forth and locating the TV in the center bar vertical was a nod of course to the double height space." The design works well for the cuisine and cocktails that now define Park Kitchen, which features a vast social area with two enormous communal tables where it's common to see trendy tech gods plugged-in next to tourists, next to executives, next to families and so on. Peter Raimondi heads up Park Central's food and beverage and says the new lounge makes people from all walks of life feel welcome and has also had an impact on his staff. "We all take pride in working in a space like this, and it matches our new menu, which is modern and inviting," says Raimondi. Park Kitchen's brilliant dishes include the neighborhood cult-followed PB&J (braised pork belly and pepper jam), a ridiculously good cured ham plate from four states and Brooklyn Lager fish and chips. "We have a huge craft cocktail scene here too, including several Manhattans and regional spirits." After hundreds of projects and untold bottles of Cabernet, Beers still puts himself in the guest's shoes on every project. "I walk into a space as if I were the guest in a restaurant or bar or hotel and I ask myself, 'What would be an impressive or memorable idea?' and I think of this before I think about the materials," he says. Allow F&B directors to provide input. Their thoughts contribute to how designers approach a project. Share what the cuisine and beverages will be early in the brainstorming process. Dream big even if you have a small space. Don't wait too long to renovate your bar. The mark of ten years is a good run—renovate to insure you get another ten years out of the space. PHOTO: COURTESY OF JEFFREY BEERS INTERNATIONAL JEFFREY BEERS SHARES HIS QUICK TIPS FOR BAR OWNERS PHOTO: KELLY MERRITT For more information on Jeffrey Beers International, visit Park Central F&B Manager Peter Raimondi.

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