Wednesday night I met Ford Fry. Jimmy and I went to an event (mentioned here) called Dining + Design Westside (AIA Atlanta - ADC Atlanta). During the event we walked from restaurant to restaurant and heard from the chefs and designers of each space. I was intrigued to see Marcel, the second stop on the tour, and excited to hear about the design. There is so much that goes into creating a space that is comforting and evocative that transports you to a timeless place where you can create memories.
Marcel is a French Steakhouse inspired by boxer Marcel Cerdan. The graphic design on the napkins, matchboxes and menus (done by these amazing people) reference the French boxer, and details throughout the space, such as the boxing glove inspired booths, keep the theme united. From the antique mirror at the entrance, the subtle details around the bar, the light fixtures in the main dining room and the fireplace on the porch, every detail unites to create an otherworldly unforgettable experience.
Ford Fry and designer Elizabeth Ingram work closely on many of Ford's projects. For Marcel she wanted to create a vibe similar to European dinner theater. She sought to create a mood and feel that completely transported the diner to another time. You could feel her passion for design through the language she used to describe it. The talked about the hard work, attention to detial, sometimes exhausting immersion, and total satisfaction she got from this project. It's well deserved - she nailed it.
Ingram created a wall installation of backlit antique fencing masks that will welcome guests into the bar area, dramatically separated from the dining room with a heavy, deep burgundy mohair curtain. The rustic, zinc bar top holds intimately-situated small lamps — glimpse up to see old photos of Cerdon himself embedded in the glass panes above the bar. Black and white photo collages of Cerdon, his dame Edith, and their entourage cleverly deck old stadium-style chairs. Magnifying glasses hang from the chair backs, lending guests a closer peek at the handsome boxer. - Source
During Ingram's part of the talk she mentioned how we've become a society where it's acceptable not to dress up anymore. She commented that people wear jeans to the opera now. When I was younger my parents made me dress up to go to church and the Fox Theater or even for a flight. These days there are very few occasions where you have to look your best and make an effort, and Elizabeth was striving to achieve that in Marcel. lt is the type of restaurant you plan your day, week or trip around. You go with an empty stomach ready for a unique experience.
We turned it into a really dark dimly lit restaurant... like back in the days when you go in and you feel like you're in some other place. - Ford Fry
I just told Elizabeth I wanted to come in and feel like you're stepping back in time using the music and the core and the materials and the food especially. - Ford Fry
“This is a restaurant where our goal is no innovation whatsoever. Everyone is looking for innovation. Everyone is looking for what’s the new crazy technique. We’re just trying to buck that and go back in time towards early 1900s beefsteak dinners, when everything was about gluttony and really good flavors and a lot of classic stuff.” - Ford Fry - source
It looks like they've changed the light fixtures in the last two months. You can see if you compare the above photos. I love the new ones! Great decision!
You can also see they changed the tin lanterns to the glass fixtures. I like the glass ones a lot better because they seem more historically accurate. They also rearranged the things on the wall. It seems the restaurant is a work in process and keeps getting better and better.
The last thing Fry said was to make sure we checked out the bathrooms before we left. Ingram spoke about scouring E-bay for vintage mouthwash bottles. There are chests filled with candy and special details everywhere. I went directly to the bathroom and was super impressed. I was not the only one...
I obviously used Instagram to find shots illustrating the restaurant's details. There are more selfies shot in that bathroom than any other part of the restaurant, and they are awesome!!! Below are a few of my favorites.
Want to check out Marcel without spending too much $$? Check them out for late night dining. Ford Fry recommended the steak frittes (insider's tip).
Before I leave you I want to take a second to thank Ford Fry for all the time he spent talking to Jimmy and me. It was wonderful hearing his thought process behind opening certain restaurants and the holes he saw in the Atlanta restaurant scene that he thought needed filling. He talked about how "there is nothing new under the sun" and that it's all about providing people with excellent food, service, atmosphere and experience. After talking to him it's easy to see why he is so successful. He understands what people want when they dine out, and I wish him continued success with all his restaurants!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
P.S. Finding the photos of Kevin Gillespie and his wife made my week. I love it when people in the safe field support each other. #coolestguyever.