Inside The Frederick Hotel, both the patron who enjoys a night out at Mr. Fong’s and the Bemelmans regular might just find something they like.
Newly opened Primo’s has set up in the TriBeCa hotel space, combining the upscale feel typically associated with a hotel bar with a downtown edge. The restaurant is officially in business with the fashion set, having played host to dinner for Yoox last night.
Aisa Shelley, a partner in Mr. Fong’s, has partnered with Camilla Deterre, the designer behind SoHo hotspot Mimi, for the bar, which will serve old school cocktails, Italian sandwiches and bar snacks.
“We talked about doing a very cool bar, but for TriBeCa,” Shelley says. “I wanted to do a really fun hotel bar. I wanted to pattern it after things that I loved about old-school hospitality and old-school hotel bars like Bemelmans at the Carlyle — but I wanted it to feel younger. The influences were the Savoy Hotel in London, Memphis collective Italian design, and old New York lobbies, a Twenties and Thirties vibe…it’s a mix of old school and new school.”
Guests — both from the hotel and incoming patrons — can come by in the afternoon for coffee and tea service, and migrate into cocktails when evening rolls around. “It’s a [more fun] version of the old school hotel lobby,” Shelley says.
The goal is something comfortable and relaxed that taps into the TriBeCa of the Eighties. “I think a lot of people come to this neighborhood and expect it’s going to be more family-oriented, and I think there’s something missing,” Shelley says. “The Odeon has had a resurgence and capitalized on that. I’ve always loved The Odeon, it’s one of my favorite places to go, and what it did well in the Eighties was attract an art and fashion crowd. And I felt like the infrastructure of TriBeCa is what I was going for. How do I have something that is stylized and fits into what it was in the Eighties and Nineties, that anyone can respond to?”
The name is a play on familiarly, with a dual meaning of “cousin” in Spanish and “first” in Italian. “Comfort” and “relaxed” is how Shelley describes the concept, which he achieves by supplementing a classic martini with a muffuletta sandwiches and at midnight, a pasta special. If that doesn’t draw the neighborhood, what will?
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