A few weeks ago I had the chance to see the architect behind one of my favorite New York spots, the Plaza Food Hall, speak about the past and ongoing process of its design. Jeffrey Beers, a veteran of the hospitality design industry, and Kristin Franzese, EVP of The Plaza’s retail operations, began working on the idea four years ago, conceiving a design vision for a European-style food hall that would serve a variety of culinary options.
Starting out in 2010 with a variety of cuisine samplings from renowned chef, Todd English, the food hall eventually expanded to its current 32,000 square foot space last year, branching out to include a larger variety of high-end vendors such as Sushi by Gari, Lady M, Maison du Chocolat, Billy’s Bakery and more.
A big challenge for Beers, was designing a cohesive space that still left room for each vendor to customize their areas. To do this he focused on repeated motifs, such as circles — seen on the ceilings, the floors, the light fixtures, etc. — inspired by forms he’d seen in the Plaza Hotel. He also standardized the cabinetry and shelving.
Taking inspiration from the idea of a town square or piazza, Beers lined the entrance with greenery to give it the feeling of an outdoor space. He installed faux skylights to keep the basement level light and airy. He also strategically placed all of the dessert vendors close to the entrance, so that the delicious smells of cakes and chocolates flood your senses as you come down the escalator.
If you have a chance, stop in and sample some of the amazing food being served in this New York City landmark. I know every time I’m in the area I stop in to grab one of my absolute favorite treats, a slice of the strawberry shortcake from Lady M.