Saturday, March 01, 2008

Eating (Outside) The Illadelph: First Look at Stephen Starr’s New Atlantic City Restaurants, Chelsea Prime and Teplitsky’s, Both in The Chelsea

The Chelsea, a new boutique hotel to open in Atlantic City in 2008As Michael Klein would have you know, Stephen Starr has got quite a few projects in the works. A Barclay Prime offshoot at the W Fort Lauderdale; a concept-TBD restaurant at the W Philadelphia; his own micro-hotel at 7th and Chestnut… with an accompanying gastro-pub in the former Angelina space; Parc at the Parc Rittenhouse; a new Washington Square; the restaurant and lobby at the Sofitel Philadelphia, and that’s not even mentioning the two new restaurants he’s opening at the start of this coming summer season at Atlantic City’s first non-gaming boutique hotel since the 1960s, The Chelsea (above).

Slated to open when the hotel opens just after Memorial Day 2008 are 1) Chelsea Prime, a steakhouse inspired by Barclay Prime, and 2) Teplitsky’s, a more casual restaurant named for the hotel's original proprietors.

Chelsea Prime (below) will be located on the Fifth Floor, “the hotel’s social scene and destination.”
Chelsea Prime, a new restaurant by Stephen Starr in Atlantic CityWhere else would the Chelsea locate its signature steakhouse, Chelsea Prime? Renowned restaurateur Stephen Starr dreamed up this restaurant and cocktail lounge, the focal point of the 5th Floor, with a setting evocative of a 1940s supper club. Chelsea Prime features indoor and outdoor seating, and a lounge with banjo-shaped bar and entertainment in the form of a suitably timeless white grand piano.

The restaurant is decorated with framed black and white photographs of 1940s Atlantic City and features elevated, Hollywood-style booths and sweeping ocean views, adding a touch of grandeur to every meal.
This is the first Barclay Prime spin-off or "sister restaurant" due to open, but as we stated earlier, Starr plans to tweak the "Prime" steakhouse concept and bring it to the W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale as well.

We say "tweak" because Starr actually recognizes that chains suck and he has no desire to produce the next Cheesecake Factory or Morton's.
The company will offer "sister" versions of proven restaurants like Barclay Prime, adding to a track record of rolling out Buddakan, Morimoto and The Continental to new locations and markets.

"We're not stamping out exact versions of restaurants," said Howard Wein, chief operating officer of Starr Restaurants and president of the Starr Restaurants Hotel Group. "We are interested in multi-unit growth of strong restaurant brands, but not as chain restaurants. We want to grow, but we want to grow with soul. That's very important to us."
We actually do have to give him credit for acknowledging as much. (Even if we were the ones that originally warned him of the potential threat.)

And then there’s Teplitzky’s (below), a concept original to The Chelsea developed by the Starr:

Teplitsky's, a Stephen Starr restaurant at the Chelsea in Atlantic City
On the Chelsea's ground floor, guests can enjoy a dining experience at Teplitzky's, a Stephen Starr restaurant and mid-century-inspired diner which pays homage to the original hotel owner.

With both indoor and secluded outdoor seating, reminiscent of a Palm Beach garden café, locals and hotel guests have the opportunity to watch passers-by on Chelsea Avenue or enjoy a drink in the cocktail lounge in the back which opens out onto a heated salt-water swimming pool area of the Sea Spa complex.

[Teplitzkyy’s] serves diner-inspired food in a fun, classic setting that also houses a bar and coffee shop brought to life with original terrazzo floors, redwood walls, and cantilevered stools. Teplitzky's also provides the hotel's twenty-four-hour room service, and a poolside menu from its hideaway cocktail lounge.
Overall, we have to say the entire project — the hotel, the restaurants, the rooftop pool, the beach service, etc. — looks pretty sharp. The general style appears to be well done too.

The rooftop pool at the Chelsea hotel in Atlantic CityHonestly, this is the type of boutique hotel that we have been wanting somebody to open in Philadelphia forever — a sophisticated, designer hotel that is also an active participant in the city’s nightlife scene.

Obviously, it’s not for everyone… and it’s not for every occasion… but it would be incredibly nice simply to have it here as an additional option. You wouldn't have to patronize it every night or every weekend. It would just be another asset in the city’s repertoire for both residents and visitors.

Because as Philadelphia attempts to project a more modern and cosmopolitan image to the rest of the world, the hotel inventory here could really do a little more to help.

Incidentally, in tomorrow’s Sunday Styles, the Times profiles the efforts of The Chelsea’s owners to make the hotel even cooler by enlisting the services of Paul Sevigny (Chloe's brother) and Matt Abramcyk, the operators of the exclusive Beatrice Inn in the West Village, and having “‘the two men booking D.J.s, making a menu of specialty cocktails and bringing “a vibe,’ said Liv Odegard, a spokeswoman for the Chelsea. […] ‘They are going to be in charge of celebrity wrangling, including bringing Paul’s sister’s friends down,’ Ms. Odegard said.”

They’ll basically be in charge of overseeing the hotel’s nightlife offerings, centered on the aforementioned Fifth Floor.
“It will be SoHo House-y,” Mr. Bashaw said last week. “All on the fifth floor, you’ll have a library, a game room, an oval-shaped bar and a Stephen Starr restaurant, which connect like a big house and spill out onto an enormous pool deck.”

While overnight guests at the Chelsea will be welcome to roam at will around the fifth floor, there will also be a street entrance with doormen eyeballing nonguests hoping to pay their way into the party.

Will the doormen turn away people deemed unhip based on their clothes, haircuts or demeanor, just as Angelo, the doorman at the Beatrice in Greenwich Village, does nightly?

“We hope so,” Mr. Bashaw said by telephone from Cape May, N.J., where he has developed three hotels.
We don’t know about all that. But it is cool to see Atlantic City getting more all-around attractive, i.e. more non-gaming entertainment. (Especially since the rooms at the Borgata are the biggest rip-offs around. Seriously, the sheets at the Borgata are like sleeping on sandpaper
— we'd be surprised if their thread count broke 150.)

And it should also probably be noted that the Inquirer would still appear to be dropping the ball on potentially interesting Image pieces, i.e. the Starr angle of the Chelsea project.

Confidential to the Inky:
OK, the Times beat you to a story again — no surprise there — but at least they didn’t totally steal the Stephen Starr angle, considering he's from Philly and he should be your expertise.

They went with the "exclusive Manhattan nightclub du jour," angle. You could still take the idea and run with it, e.g.
"A new boutique hotel named the Chelsea is set to open in Atlantic City, and with the hotel comes the potential of a facelift for the area," as a non-gaming development tries to up the proverbial ante in the destination’s hospitality scene.

We're pretty sure it's the type of Image article that people would actually be interested in reading. At least the people that you should want reading your paper.

The Chelsea [ Official Site ]
The Chelsea to debut as non-gaming boutique hotel in Atlantic City [ Hotel & Motel Management ]
SoHo Meets HoJo in Atlantic City [ New York Times ]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree, The Chelsea looks amazing, and I am really excited to see it. As for your observation about the Inquirer, it seems to me that they write with a bias against AC, especially since Philly is gunning for casinos of its own.