Call it South Beach meets South Old Woodward.
Red-cushioned sofas, wicker chairs and cocktail tables will add a resort-like aura to downtown Birmingham's main avenue when Hyde Park Steakhouse opens. The Ohio-based restaurant group won city approval this month for an enlarged patio at its high-visibility site two doors north of the .
At the same Planning Board meeting, the got the OK to break through a front wall near the and add a 56-foot sidewalk deck with a colorful awning over tables.
Both designs, also approved by the Historic District Commission, support the Downtown Birmingham 2016 master plan goal "to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment," city Planning Director Jana Ecker said at the March 14 meeting.
Hyde Park Steakhouse aims to 'get a little bit of energy outside'
Hyde Park, expected to open this summer, has a distinctive approach. In contrast to other full-service restaurant patios locally, its sidewalk space will serve mainly as a cocktail lounge or open-air spot for tapas-style "small plates" rather than three-course meals.
"The intent is to get a little bit of energy outside, even though it's a short season," co-owner Joe Saccone said earlier. At this month's final site plan review hearing, he described Hyde Park's 24-year history and 14 other restaurants.
The 75-foot-wide seasonal patio will be enclosed by eight planters with boxwood shrubs and a decorative black railing. Guests will be able to relax with:
- Two five-foot-wide sofas with maroon cushions and wicker sides
- Four red-cushioned chairs with wicker and teak arms
- Three low wrought iron tables
- Eight tall armchairs chairs alongside four granite-top high round table
That's 16 seats, perhaps a couple more if friends squeeze cozily onto the pair of loveseat-size couches.
Architectural images submitted to the city show a style that resembles dining lounges along the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA, or on Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road in Miami's South Beach area.
The restaurant has permission to use 6.5 feet of sidewalk width, leaving a five-foot-wide pedestrian path. The restaurant will remove two circular tree benches near the curb to assure that minimum required width.
Hyde Park also is redesigning the front wall and interior of what had been Forte, a restaurant that after operating 16 years at 201 S. Old Woodward.
Flat windows and French doors to the patio will replace bay windows. The revolving-door entrance and canopy move north of where they are now. Six black canvas awnings with white stripes will be angled above the patio area. Tri-Phase Commercial Construction of Birmingham is the general contractor.
"We're gutting the entire restaurant except the kitchen," Saccone from his group's base in Beachwood, OH. "We'll do extensive remodeling and guests will see an entirely new look."
Saccone is traveling abroad this week and partner Rick Hauck on Monday declined to comment. "I have not been involved in the Birmingham restaurant since the early stages," he explained. Lead designer Brent LaCount of Design Collective in Columbus, who attended a Feb. 15 hearing on the project, also declined an interview request.
This is the Michigan debut of Hyde Park, which has 10 Ohio locations, two Florida sites and one each in New York and Pennsylvania.
Townsend patio to be ready by May 1
At the Townsend, work began last Monday to cut an exterior wall opening for a door between the Rugby Grill's lobby dining area and a 22-seat deck. It's expected to be "ready for the patio season this spring – May 1," says executive chef .
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails will be served from 6:30 a.m. to midnight under a teal awning with retro-style accent stripes at the edges.
The architect is Victor Saroki of Birmingham, a leading local designer of restaurants and other high-profile buildings.
The hotel, open since 1985, also serves a limited menu outside The Corner bar on Merrill — which that introduced the city's first resort-style seating at a downtown patio.