Monday, March 29, 2010

Twenty Manning To Be Reincarnated As Twenty Manning Grill

twenty manning philadelphiaMichael Klein first reported on Twenty Manning's closing earlier this month. Owner Audrey Taichman decided to close the restaurant to reconcept and open anew.

The name of the new restaurant had not yet been determined, although Twenty Manning Grill was the leading contender.

Signage went up on the paper-covered windows over the weekend confirming that Twenty Manning Grill will indeed be the new name.

The signage also states the restaurant will serve: fish, fowl, pork and beef.

The new Twenty Manning Grill is supposed to ready to go sometime in April, just in time to take full advantage of two of its greatest assets: its location and its outdoor seating.

Twenty Manning's changeover
[ The Insider - ]

Saturday, March 27, 2010

First Look: Rendering of Wynn Philadelphia Casino

rendering of wynn philadelphia casino
A rendering of Steve Wynn's Philadelphia casino | Image via

Apparently it will have the Wynn name on it.

Exclusive First Look: Wynn Philly [ Vegas Happens Here ]
Changing Skyline: An artful urban casino or more big-box blah? [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Big Guns: Stephen Starr Teaming Up With Sasha Petraske Of NYC's Milk & Honey To Develop Cocktail Program For The Forthcoming El Rey "Speakeasy" Annex

dutch kills bar in long island city
The Bar at Sasha Petraske's Dutch Kills in Long Island City | Image via

In an interview with Plan Philly regarding his plans for opening a beer garden in Fishtown this summer, Stephen Starr also reveals this gem about the back bar at El Rey, his other upcoming project, which he hopes to open in late April at 20th and Chestnut in the old Midtown IV Diner:

"Starr hired the owner of Milk and Honey, located in New York's east side – to develop the cocktail menu."

The owner of Milk and Honey is famed mixologist Sasha Petraske. So we're assuming that's who the reporter means Starr has hired to develop the cocktail program at El Rey.

Which is big news.

Starr has made no secret of his plans for a speakeasy vibe in the back bar at the former diner, which will be connected to the main El Rey restaurant but be "thematically separate" and have it's own entrance on Ranstead Street.

So by hiring Petraske, who helped start the speakeasy trend with Milk and Honey on Manhattan's Lower East Side last decade, to consult on the bar program for the El Rey annex, Starr is breaking out the big guns.

UPDATE: A Starr rep writes in to clarify:
Sasha Petraske will be consulting with Stephen Starr on a yet-to-be named cocktail lounge. The lounge is an annex of Starr’s new restaurant, El Rey, and will feature handcrafted cocktails for which Petraske is known.

While Petraske won’t be consulting on the beverage program within the restaurant itself, the cocktail list at El Rey will include a handful of specialty cocktails featuring fresh, hand-squeezed juices; a limited list of California , Spanish and South American wines; a choice selection of tequilas and mezcals; and an assortment of bottled and draft beer.
Got that?

Petraske is consulting on the cocktail lounge/speakeasy annex to be located at the rear of El Rey, but not on the beverage program at El Rey itself.

Meanwhile, after the El Rey Annex/Speakeasy opens next month, look out. Between it, Village Whiskey, and Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co., there will be a very nice concentration of excellent cocktails in the immediate vicinity of 18th/20th and Sansom/Chestnut.

Other key outtakes from the interview, regarding the beer garden:
- "Starr says local brews will definitely be joining German and Austrian imports on the menu [ at the beer garden]."

- "We want to do a neighborhood-y place. A place that caters to the city, as opposed to the suburbs,” he said.

- 250 seats outside

= When asked why create a beer-focused venue, Starr said, “I'm always looking for something new to do. I get bored with myself.”

- Starr has no love for the casino projects: "When asked what the proximity of SugarHouse, and, further south on Columbus, Foxwoods, would do for his business, Starr said, "I think they do nothing for it. I'm not a big fan of the casino thing.'

Yo Fishtown: A Biergarten is in your future [ Plan Philly ]

Starr Poaches Longtime Xochitl Chef Dionicio Jimenez From Team Cook-Solomonov For Forthcoming Midtown Diner Project

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jose Garces' Mercat A La Planxa Is A James Beard Award Finalist For Restaurant Graphics

mercat a la planxa graphic
Some of the nominated work | Images via

mercat a la planxa t shirts
mercat a la planxa graphic
mercat a la planxa noteWhile the nomination is for the work done for Jose Garces' Chicago restaurant, Mercat a la Planxa, if the Mercat graphics win, the award goes to the design firm — Korn Design out of Boston — that did the design work, not Garces.

Note: Korn Design won the Beard Award in this category in 2009 for the work they did for a Denver restaurant.

Outstanding Restaurant Graphics
[ James Bear Awards ]
Korn Design [ Official Site ]
Mercat a la Planxa [ Official Site ]`

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dwight Schrute Enjoys A Lionshead Beer On The Office

dwight enjoys a lionshead beer on the office
Lion Brewery of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania represent.

Nice attention to detail on the part of the show's producers. Now if only the Always Sunny gang would start drinking local beer at Paddy's Pub.

Clip below.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stephen Starr Wins Career Design Award

morimoto restaurant in new york city
Morimoto in New York City | Photo via SRO

Hospitality Design Magazine has named Stephen Starr a 2010 Platinum Circle design award recipient.

About the award: "For the past two decades, Platinum Circle has been awarded to industry luminaries—architects, designers, owner/operators, purchasers—who have demonstrated the highest degree of excellence throughout their careers."

HD Announces 2010 Platinum Circle Honorees [ Hospitality Design ]

Monday, March 08, 2010

Dining At Parx Casino Defined By Hot Dogs And Cigarettes; Sets Precedent For Philadelphia Casinos To Become "The McDonald's Of Gambling"

mandarin bar at the mandarin oriental in las vegas
Don't expect to see anything like this at the Wynn/Foxwoods Casino in South Philadelphia — it won't even have a hotel | Photo via the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, part of the brand new CityCenter complex

In her column on Sunday, pointedly titled "The lifeblood of Parx casino in Bucks is low-roller locals," Monica Yant Kinney takes a closer look at Parx Casino in Bensalem to hint at just how depressingly down-market the forthcoming Philadelphia casinos (Sugarhouse and Wynn/Foxwoods) will be.

The article makes it abundantly clear how different these casinos actually are from any notions people may have in their minds of glamorous Vegas-style resorts and casinos coming to Philadelphia.
Las Vegas uses volcanoes, Emeril Lagasse, and spa treatments to make losing seem fun. Philadelphia's casino "experience" is shaping up to be neither entertaining nor exotic, defined instead by hot dogs, cigarettes, and convenience.
Regarding the regulars who come to Parx 150-200 times a year and their eating habits:
It didn't take much to lure them, beyond proximity, free valet parking, and $50 comps.

"If you live 15 minutes away, you really don't need a room," Jonas told the casino group. His customers "come in, grab a hot dog or maybe a chicken sandwich," gamble three hours, "then go home and sleep in their own bed."
Regarding the overall vibe at Parx:
We tried to get lunch, but Parx's steak house serves only dinner, and the Foodies counter steps away from the casino floor didn't entice.

"This," Mirarchi marveled, "is the McDonald's of gambling."
He's not saying the food options at Parx are 'the McDonald's of gambling'; he's saying the overall experience at Parx is 'the McDonald's of gambling'.

Which sounds about right.

(Meanwhile, it's worth noting that the recently opened City Center in Las Vegas made a strategic decision to further distinguish itself with exceptional food and restaurants.)

The lifeblood of Parx casino in Bucks is low-roller locals [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Editorial: Steve Wynn's vision for the Foxwoods site is further confirmation that casino gambling in Philadelphia will be a down-market industry, preying mostly on the poor and elderly who can least afford it [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
CityCenter aims to make dining experience 'cooler and hipper' - Veritable who’s who of celebrity chefs headline casino-resort’s restaurants [ Las Vegas Sun ]

Steve Wynn Wants To Build A Cute Casino With A Steakhouse, Italian Restaurant And Asian Noodle House