Well placed sources tell me that Paces 88 at the St. Regis Buckhead will close effective this coming Friday November 9th. The restaurant, located on the second floor of the posh Buckhead hotel, opened with the hotel in April 2009, and even won a place on Esquire Magazine"s Best New Restaurants in America list. Chef Mark Alba, at the time most recently of the shuttered Food Studio concept in west midtown, was the restaurant's opening chef and remained with them through their first year. Between jobs, Alba stayed busy as a personal chef and can now once again be found in Buckhead at Modern, the new restaurant at Tower Place.
Since opening in 2009, the restaurant did try to tweak things repeatedly with menu upgrades and downgrades and pricing reductions, but being located in a hotel that even when sold out has only 151 rooms is tough. The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, by contrast, has over 500.
The St. Regis Buckhead hotel and its unsold residences were sold last May to Florida-based Tavistock Group, a private equity group, for about $50 million.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner service will continue to be offered in the Astor Court, while Paces 88 will be used as a special event space and be available for possible buyouts.
Pano Karatassos of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group originally planned to open what he called a "relocated" Pano's & Paul's (to be known simply as Pano's given Chef Paul's departure from the business) in the lobby level of the hotel, but that plan never materialized. Instead, Pano currently plans to convert a portion of his 103 West private event space to Pano's. According to multiple BLRG sources, this conversion is still on the books but has been delayed indefinitely.
Hotel restaurants, especially in Buckhead, have gone through plenty of change recently, especially in the luxury segment. The Mansion on Peachtree became the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta and during the change, NEO, the in house restaurant, was converted to Taipan, a lounge open on the weekends in the same space. Additionally, Craft and craft bar, both located in front of the then Mansion, closed in late 2010, before the hotel conversion. Last month, the two level space that housed both craft concepts re-opened as Del Frisco's Grille, a more casual / contemporary offering from the group behind Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse.
The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead lost its Executive Chef Todd Richards in July and has since brought in a new EC. It's expected that with the new chef there will also be a new menu likely to be introduced in the coming weeks.
Taking a step down the hotel luxury ladder, Au Pied de Cochon at the InterContinental finally closed last spring and was replaced by the less than popular Southern Art. The restaurant gets it name from its "celebrity" chef / figurehead Art Smith, who by hotel contract makes a few yearly appearances but is otherwise not involved in the operation as best I can tell. The restaurant opened to much fanfare, but has since sent its Food & Beverage Director packing, lost its Executive Chef and most recently, saw its star mixologist Arianne Fielder flee the sinking ship for Drew Van Leuvan's upcoming Seven Lamps at The Shops Around Lenox.
The W Buckhead, formerly a Crowne Plaza, and home to Milan restaurant, opened in 2008 with Market, a concept from New York-based Jean-Georges. Earlier this summer, it was announced that Market would close but that in its place, Cook Hall would open. Oddly enough, the new concept is being put together by Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group, the same group behind Market. Cook Hall is scheduled to open in early December.
What is your favorite Buckhead hotel restaurant? What is your favorite Atlanta hotel restaurant? Why dissuades you from frequenting hotel restaurants? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.