Kimpton Hotels’ Square 1682 Rocks PhillyNovember 15, 2010 By: Jack Robertiello
These days, the hotel operator looking to catch the moment is figuring out what the proprietor of a new restaurant looking to create a buzz knows: You can’t do it without a fabulous bar and lounge program. All sorts of hotels are doubling down on their nightlife emphasis, some through rooftop lounges, others with a blend of dining, cocktails and ambiance that make the hotel a destination spot for guests and locals, taking a bit of a retro approach — hotel bars were the see-and-be-seen places, the heart of the hotel back in the 1940s and ’50s.
Some of today’s hoteliers are putting a decidedly contemporary slant on bar design and management, with great results. One such operator is San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, a leading boutique hotelier. An example is Kimpton’s Square 1682, located in the Hotel Palomar in Philadelphia. It’s a destination bar, restaurant and cocktail scene all in one, housed in an adjacent historic building. A block of walnut suspended by bronze chain links serves as the bar, while a two-story, semi-transparent glass wine display and an exhibition kitchen also provide unique features.
Located in the city’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, Square 1682 is an all-day affair, with a powerhouse duo attracting patrons eager to dine and drink. Executive Chef Guillermo Tellez, once chef de cuisine at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and director of menu development for Philly’s Starr Restaurants, has the chops to draw serious diners, as do the works of Kimpton’s Master Mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout and Master Sommelier Emily Wines. Since this is beer-mad Philadelphia, local beer choices were left to General Manager Anna Schneider.
“We’re at heart a neighborhood restaurant, but being attached to a great hotel partner, we get to introduce our guests coming through [the hotel] to these great beers,” she says. “The bar and lounge on the first floor are what’s visible from outside, and that’s how we get people to come in.”
The design focuses on art and architectural notes, with wood-encased geometric stairs and a dining room lined with floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s also a LEED-registered restaurant using non-intrusive, high-quality, eco-friendly products, ingredients and services, part of Kimpton’s green initiative.
Restaurant Manager Nick Bathurst notes that, as with the food, cocktails are being developed with local ingredients like Bluecoat Gin. “We’ve definitely seen a trend in cocktails to work with area farmers to get things local and fresh. We tried to keep it local so that it’s relevant to our guests.”
Meanwhile, Bezuidenhout’s Bell Pepper Smash (Ketel One Citroen Vodka, Canton Ginger liqueur, muddled raspberries and bell pepper) is the most popular drink. There’s a happy hour wave from 4 p.m. onward that opens the evening, giving way to dining room activity, and then another wave at the bar for the late nighters. Schneider and Bathurst just launched a Monday industry night promotion, spurred on by the staff; the first PBR is on the house, and complimentary bar bites and some discounts are available.
As Philly natives and visitors alike look for a space to imbibe, Square 1682 is waiting. The concept is a prime example of Kimpton’s commitment to emphasizing bars as an attractive element of its properties, and creating concepts that complement the host hotel and add to the local scene as well.