Former Four Seasons Grill Room Reopens
Selldorf, Georgis refurbish Johnson’s 1950s design
Major Food Group (MFG) has taken the wraps off a restoration of the Grill Room within the former Four Seasons Restaurant in New York’s famed Seagram Building. Now dubbed THE GRILL, the 60-year-old space has been refurbished by restoration architect Annabelle Selldorf, who worked within strict guidelines to maintain Philip Johnson’s 1959 interiors. Meanwhile, New York-based designer William T. Georgis oversaw the reimagination of the dining venue’s interior elements.
The space housing THE GRILL is one of 117 interior landmarks in New York, and the only interior landmark restaurant space. MFG, a New York-based restaurant and hospitality company founded by Rich Torrisi, Jeff Zalaznick and Mario Carbone, took over the lease of the former Four Seasons restaurant space last year, The New York Times reported at that time. (According to Eater NY, Four Seasons proprietors Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder plan to reopen a new iteration of that famed restaurant—designed by Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld—on Park Avenue this year.)
“This is the greatest restaurant space of all time, and we’re doing everything we can to honor that,” says MFG partner Zalaznick. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for us as restaurateurs, and it’s explosively exciting for us as New Yorkers.”
THE GRILL’s street-level lobby entrance showcases a large host stand topped with floral designs. Art from 1958, the year the Seagram Building was built, surrounds the entryway, including original pieces by Joan Miro, Alexander Calder and Cy Twombly that have been curated by building owner Aby Rosen.
A staircase leads to the refurbished dining space, where Selldorf restored original glass walls, steel beams and the ceiling’s recessed light fixtures. The revamped lighting system was created by lighting designer, Hervé Descottes of L’Observatoire Intl. A ceiling sculpture by Richard Lippold was also maintained within the dining room.
Knoll’s curvilinear Brno chairs, which were created by Johnson, have been reproduced in the same shapes as the originals, refreshed in new materials like dandridge ombre horsehair and spinneybeck leather. Marie Nichols’ original chain curtains, made of looped aluminum in gold, brass and bronze, have been cleaned and restored. Edward Fields Co., which Johnson chose for the original interior floorcoverings, also produced new carpets for THE GRILL based on its classic designs.
The space’s transformation also involved a few adjustments. For instance, in the venue’s main room, chefs now work behind a table showcasing seasonal meats, fishes and veggies. The restaurant’s elevated balcony has been reinvented as what project participants describe as “a regal perch,” overlooking the entire room with four square tables and banquettes at the balcony’s edge.
Off the main room, a private dining space features a “Starry Night” ceiling created for Johnson’s original design overhead, as well as a pair of Lee Krasner paintings. As part of the project, the former Four Seasons kitchen also underwent an overhaul.
Even the employee wardrobe has been reinvented: Staff in Tom Ford tuxedos designed exclusively for the restaurant will serve renditions of chophouse classics prepared by Chef Carbone of MFG.
The passageway connecting THE GRILL with THE POOL, the second restaurant in MFG’s restoration of the former Four Seasons space, has also been revamped with a wall-size sculpture of overflowing plants by artist Paula Hayes. THE POOL will debut this summer, and will also include a new lounge featuring a handmade bar crafted of mother of pearl. The lounge, which previously served as a private dining room, will showcase a blue-tinted, aquatic-inspired look with plush custom furniture and hand-knotted wall textiles.
MFG’s other restaurants are: Carbone, Dirty French, Santina, Parm, Sadelle’s and ZZ’s Clam Bar. It also operates The Lobby Bar at the Ludlow Hotel and provides all F&B and event services for the Ludlow Hotel and has more projects in the works worldwide.