07 January 2011

Fedora, Not So Much

There was much talk when restauranteur Gabe Stuhlman took over the old school Greenwich Village haunt Fedora that he would honor the spirit of the original owner and eatery.

But talk is cheap. Things didn't look good when Stuhlman chose not to keep the original neon sign (which should have been landmarked long ago), but replaced it needlessly with a facsimile. (Stuhlman told JVNY that he has saved the old sign and will use it somewhere.) And now photos have been released of the interior. The above doesn't look anything like the Fedora I remember, aside from the egress being in the same place. Fedora was dark as night, and rustic in the extreme. This place could be in the Hamptons. The bar's in the same basic location, but I can't tell if it's the same bar. According to Eater, "much of the bar" is the same, but the ceiling and floor are not the same. (Another report says the floor is the same.) I remember talk of the old cash register being kept, but I don't see it. And who needs trite photos of Monroe and Warhol; any bistro in Topeka can hang those worn images on the wall and call itself classy.

I wish the restaurant well. (And I respect the way Stuhlman actually responds to worrisome cranks like myself, explaining his motives and reasoning.) At least the name is the same, and fans of the old place can go in and dream. If fact, I'll probably go myself. Just, you know, sigh.


Jared said...

Come on man, I feel like you're burying the lead with that last paragraph.

Stulman does most everything the way it should be. He re-uses what he can, he designs lovely restaurants that respect the look of the neighborhood, he's accessible and open in his explanations. He seems like the kind of guy this blog should be celebrating, as supported by all the nice things Fedora herself said about the man.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I had to express my first reaction first: disappointment. Not burying the lead. My lead is: disappointment. Stuhlman did what he did. I recognize that he's a better man than most.

Grade "A" Fancy said...

What, no hand-scrawled sign for splits of champagne taped to the heating unit?

upstate Johnny G said...

"He re-uses what he can." What does that mean, exactly? What defines what he "can" use? Why not leave the barstools as they were....red vinyl cusions on metal frames? Why not leave the caricatures hanging? Perhaps the idea was that replacing them (the drawings) with photos of people more recognizable to modern visitors is a legitimate "updating" of the original decor. The problem is when you "update" you sometimes miss your mark and lose all sense of originality and individuality, the result being banality. What you want to maintain is the sense of identity the place has. When I walk into Le Veau d'Or or Bill's Gay Nineties I now instantly where I am just from the decor. If M. Robert tore out the wood paneling, painted the walls white, and replaced the art with some framed b & w photos of Paris the way it looked in the 50's, Le Veau d'Or would be a parody of itself and would lose it's identity among all the other faux "bistros" that have cropped up. And without an identity how do you generate loyal, regular customers that keep a place going when the trendoids tire and inevitably move on to the next new thing?

When I look at the film Grade "A" Fancy made of Fedora it looks as though the ceiling might be the same. The wall covering is new. The furniture looks new. The bar? I'm not sure. The photo of the new Fedora though, looks to me like any number of places I've been in on the UES. Nothing particularly unique or enticing about it. Cookie cutter.

Here's the url for the film...worth seeing for loving shots of many of the places Lost City has lamented losing this past year....

enodo said...

Anyone know what happened to the phone booth?