Tuesday, March 1, 2022

[EXCLUSIVE] "Chopped" Judge Bringing "Italian-Inspired Steakhouse" to Buckhead Hotel

One celebrity chef is replacing another at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta.  ToNeTo Atlanta has confirmed that The Americano, the upcoming restaurant at the InterContinental hotel in Buckhead, is the same The Americano created by celebrity chef Scott Conant.  The Americano replaces Southern Art from celebrity chef Art Smith, which opened at the upscale Buckhead hotel in late 2011 and closed in 2021.  Conant, like Smith, has authored several cookbooks, but is perhaps most well known as a recurring judge on the hit Food Network show "Chopped."  
The original The Americano opened in Scottsdale in February 2020, just ahead of the pandemic.  Conant, originally slated to partner with restaurateur Stefano Fabbri in the restaurant's opening, stepped away due to filming and scheduling conflicts.  The pandemic, however, prevented his normal filming schedule, and Conant is now in Scottsdale full time.  Conant and his SC Culinary Inc. team partnered with Scottsdale-based Creation Hospitality to assume ownership and operation of the restaurant in September 2020 and have adjusted the menu and its offerings for the realities of today. Phoenix Mag said of the changes:  

"Barely a month old when the pandemic hit, the ultra-luxe Italian steakhouse reemerges with toned-down ambitions. Out: caviar and $100 cocktails. In: exquisite small plates and crazy-good beef."

Conant, who turned 51 on February 19, describes The Americano as "an Italian-inspired steakhouse that is modern in approach and Italian in spirit."  Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse, which features a menu similar to The Americano, reopened at Phipps Plaza this past November after being closed for more than a year.  

Opened in 2004, InterContinental Buckhead's original restaurant was Au Pied de Cochon, a French brasserie that was never as popular as its international locations.  Interestingly, the Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead (formerly the Mandarin Oriental and before that, The Mansion on Peachtree) last month unveiled its new restaurant, Brassica, a French brasserie.  

Originally corporately owned by InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, InterContinental Buckhead was sold to Pebblebrook Hotel Trust in 2010 for $105 million.  Ten years later, at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Pebblebrook offloaded the Buckhead property for $163 million to Brookfield Asset Management.

Inside The Americano in Scottsdale 

Permits filed with the City of Atlanta indicate that Brookfield is spending at least $1.2 million to renovate and upgrade the overall 10,000 square foot restaurant and surrounding space, including updates to the restaurant's extensive Peachtree Road patio.     

Hotel restaurants are notoriously difficult to popularize.  Operators must have restaurants that appeal not only to travelers who often want to get away from their hotel, but also to locals, by being approachable enough to entice their repeat visits.  

Buckhead, in particular, is littered with failed hotel restaurants, several of which were helmed by (or at least associated with) celebrity chefs.  Tom Colicchio's Craft and craftbar previously operated from the freestanding building in front of the Waldorf Astoria where Del Frisco's Grille is today.  Across the street, Market by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten anchored the W Atlanta Buckhead, closed and became Cook Hall, and today sits vacant with the hotel also now reflagged as Hotel Colee.  Over on Lenox Road, the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel & Conference Center opened with Shula's 347 Grill, operated in partnership with NFL great Don Shula, but it closed and was replaced by the Lenox Road Bar & Grill.  

Buckhead has seen hotel restaurant successes too.  The Garden Room and Atlas, both at the St. Regis Atlanta, are easily the two most popular hotel restaurants in Buckhead.  

In recent months, several new hotel restaurants have opened in Buckhead, too, including The Betty at The Sylvan Hotel, Mount Royal from celebrity chef and James Beard award winner Hugh Acheson at The Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta, and Dirty Rascal from local chef and James Beard nominee Todd Ginsberg at Thompson Buckhead.  Chef Nobu will open his famous Nobu sushi restaurant at the Nobu Hotel at Phipps Plaza later this summer.  

Sources close to The Americano tell ToNeTo Atlanta that plans call for a late spring/early summer debut.  

Are you excited for the opening of The Americano in Buckhead?  What is your favorite hotel restaurant in Atlanta?  What type of restaurant do you think Buckhead lacks?

Please share your thoughts below. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I still miss Au Pied de Cochon.

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