I suppose it would be easy to walk into an interior design store and buy new things for Alison two – just like it is easier to open a can, dump it into a bowl and microwave it. But, that’s just not the way we do things.
The other day we went to an architectural salvage yard. The salvage yard was just overflowing in cool things – a real feast for the eyes. Chairs hanging from the ceiling, old bureaus, doorknobs, cigarette machines, European style coat racks, window frames, tin ceilings, tiles, light fixtures, antique tables and more. We spent hours sloshing through the mud, rooting around for hidden gems – like a pig searching for truffles.
My favorite find was a pair of mirrors that used to hang above the mantels in The Plaza Hotel. Imagine what they might have seen!
Then we stumbled across some cool iron garden doors from a big, old iron gate. We’ll need to strip and finish them, but they’ll be interesting for dividing the bar and private dining room from the main dining room. The iron gates will add lots of texture, interesting detail and, once we add curtains, sound absorbency. And we’re using a design element from the grates in the sconces and the foot rail around the bar that we’re having custom-made.
Some things we find — or have custom made — for the restaurant. Other things find me and just end up in the restaurant. I collect things along the way. My friends know that when you open up the gate to my backyard, the theme song from Sanford and Son comes on. Long before I even thought of opening a second restaurant, I was walking through the Marais district in Paris enjoying all the great little shops. They’re filled with unique items that aren’t mass produced. I found these two scrolls with a really interesting print on them. I didn’t have anywhere to put them, at that time, so they’ve stayed rolled up in the corner of my apartment. I finally found a home for them — they will flank the fireplace in the living room at Alison two. It is the perfect place for them.
I’d much rather find things I love and then find a place for them than have an empty space and have to look for things to love. The space will be newly renovated but it will be filled with things I’ve collected over the years in different parts of the world – giving it flavor and personality. Just like our food and wine.
I’m off sample some of the Yards beers we’re pairing with foods for our Beer Dinner next week and then I have to play around with a marshmallow recipe to see how it works with kosher gelatin, for the cooking class coming up in New York. Until next week…