New 'Skybar' restaurant coming to the Mall
It's been a long time coming, but it appears that Downtown landlord Gabe Silverman has finally found a long-term tenant for the old A&N building on the east end of the Mall.
Alex George, former owner of Just Curry and former partner in Cinema Taco, along with four investors, will be opening the Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar sometime in June.
Okay, it's not the spectacular roof-top restaurant atop the Landmark Hotel that Halsey Minor promised (you may have to crane your neck to get any view of the horizon), but we'll take it.
Plans for the renovation of the building, drawn up by architect Marthe Rowen, were approved by the Board of Architectural Review recently, and George says the design firm Alloy Workshop will team up with her to design the interior. A notable addition to the building will be a roof-top terrace, which George says will have restaurant seating and a bar.
Well, it certainly looks like the International Style is alive and well on the Downtown Mall. A steel-framed canopy over the skybar recalls Philip Johnson's renowned Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. The other obvious exterior change will be a simple modern canopy guarding the front door, which will move from the center to the corner of the façade.
Actually, the circa-1900 building was orginally two stories, but the second story either burned or was removed in the mid-20th century. After years as the A&N building, it became the local Obama campaign headquaters in 2008 and served as an art gallery until recently.
In 2006 a Littlejohn's Deli was planned for the space, and the very next year plans for a grocery store were proposed. So the food theme continues.
Unfortunartely, folks living in the building will see their small second-story windows covered with a wall. The open-air roof-top section will inlcude two bathrooms, seating, a full-bar, and guardrails along the parapet to lean on and view the street below.
A large portion of the brick wall on the 5th Street SE side of the building will be demolished, making way for fixed or sliding windows that will extend down to the floor level.
The menu, says George, who will be the executive chef, will feature what he's calling "new American cuisine with a South American influence."
"I want to pull from the entire continent of South America and the Caribbean to infuse color into the food," says George. He says he'll be using locally sourced food when available, but says the menu will be supplemented with foods from South America and the Caribbean. (Indeed, it's hard to find a locally grown mango.)
George says the restaurant will serve a light menu from 3pm to 5pm, then the regular menu until 9:30pm, at which time the downstairs will close and a late night menu will be served on the Skybar until closing.