City Winery New York, the flagship location of the chain of multipurpose hubs for wine, food and entertainment, will relocate by early 2020. CEO and founder Michael Dorf is excited for the opportunity to make the new property bigger and better based on the successes of City Winery's other locations, including its Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners in Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta and Boston.
"We've learned a lot, and I can't wait to apply that understanding of what City Winery does and bring those improvements to our flagship city," Dorf told Wine Spectator. "Now we really get to build the ultimate facility just like all our other locations." Dorf wants to update the kitchens and private-event areas, build a second performance space, and better integrate the winemaking and hospitality spaces.
According to a press release, the move was spurred by Walt Disney Company purchasing the entire block of Varick Street where City Winery is located, to build its New York headquarters. Dorf said he is considering locations downtown, and plans to find a new spot and begin construction by the end of the year. The opening is currently slated for Jan. 1, 2020. City Winery is also looking into opening a larger winemaking facility about an hour's drive north of Manhattan.—J.H.
Valentino, a member of the debut Grand Award class of 1981, will close at the end of the year after a 47-year run in Santa Monica, Calif. The wine list boasted an extensive collection of Italian wines, headed by owner Piero Selvaggio.
Selvaggio said changes in diner trends made it difficult to maintain such a high-caliber program. He and his family also recently moved to Newport Beach, Calif., which is an hour-long commute to the restaurant. With these developments in mind, Selvaggio decided to close Valentino.
He is sad to see the end of an era, but is looking forward to opening a new restaurant this fall in Newport Beach, where he sees big potential for growth in the wine scene. The wine program will be substantial, and may offer some bottles from Valentino, but the fate of that inventory is still unclear and will depend on whether the restaurant's sale will include its cellar.
The waterfront restaurant will feature Italian staples like pastas and risottos, with a focus on meat and many grilled items, in an upscale but comfortable setting—"fine dining at the beach," Selvaggio calls it. "We will try to just have a fun restaurant," he said. "I think at this stage in my life, fun is a very important part."—J.H.
The long-awaited Manhatta, Union Square Hospitality Group's new restaurant atop a skyscraper in New York's Financial District, opened its doors to the public July 17. Danny Meyer's group owns six Restaurant Award winners in New York: the Modern (Grand Award), Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Maialino, Marta and Untitled.
For more on what to expect of the new venture, read our preview in the last edition of Turning Tables.—J.H.
Grand Award Saison in San Francisco announced a new addition to its team: Laurent Gras, the French-born chef who is best-known for heading fine-dining destinations L20 in Chicago and Fifth Floor in San Francisco, now both closed. After a hiatus, Gras returns to restaurant kitchens and will be working side-by-side with Saison co-owner and chef Joshua Skenes. The restaurant holds top honors for its 1,900-selection wine list with strengths in Italy, France, California and Washington.
"Joshua and Laurent have known each other for a long time," co-owner and wine director Mark Bright told Wine Spectator. "They thought it would be fun to collaborate and work together at Saison." There will be some change, like new dishes, but Bright assured that they will stay "within what Saison does."
He adds that the hire was good timing, because Saison is opening two new concepts, one in San Francisco next month and one in Los Angeles at the end of 2018. "It allows us to maintain the quality we are used to [at] Saison and allows Josh to kind of focus for a few months on the new restaurants opening and the menus," said Bright.
The new concepts will be similar to Saison, but will feature à la carte options and a more casual experience, with a wine focus in Burgundy, the Rhône and the Loire Valley.—K.K.
Chef Geoffrey Zakarian's Georgie closed July 15 after two years at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. The ground-floor restaurant will be temporarily reopening as a different concept at the end of the month, but the Best of Award of Excellence–winning Georgie will be relocating to a new home, elsewhere in Los Angeles.
"Montage is an incredible luxury brand, and it was an honor to partner with their team here in Beverly Hills," Zakarian said in a statement. "Although we cannot announce anything as of yet, together our companies will be bringing exciting projects to diners in the future."
Zakarian also owns Best of Award of Excellence winner the Lambs Club in New York City.—B.G.