Food First, Shopping Second

 
 
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Food First, Shopping Second

In-store restaurants have become fine-dining destinations in their own right

In-store restaurants aren’t new: For decades, spots like the Zodiac at Neiman Marcus in Dallas have let shoppers unwind over a glass of wine and a salad. But now, more retail locations are including upscale eateries, hiring celebrity chefs, and developing elaborate menus that emphasize freshness and seasonality.

These restaurants are becoming dining destinations in their own right, drawing customers who come for the food first and the shopping second.

Some began as additions to existing shops, while others were developed in tandem with boutiques, offering customers a holistic experience. Such schemes have been so successful that French chef Dominique Crenn, whose San Francisco restaurant Atelier Crenn was awarded three Michelin stars, will open a combination restaurant, boutique, and patisserie in the northern California city this fall. And hungry shoppers already have a range of options around the world when they want fine dining alongside their retail therapy.

L’AVENUE AT SAKS, NEW YORK CITY

Opened in February 2019, this French-Thai restaurant is on the ninth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship New York location. Its debut was covered by Vogue and drew celebrities, such as actress Jessica Chastain, who came to check out the Philippe Starck-designed interiors and the extensive menu. Inside, the color palette skews beige and brown, punctuated by stained-glass windows, while just downstairs is Le Chalet, a bar and lounge with a ski-lodge feel. The menu spans fine-dining classics, including caviar, foie gras, and beef tartare, as well as Thai-inflected dishes like chili sea bass. The cocktail menu features straightforward drinks like Negronis and old-fashioneds, as well as more creative concoctions from mixologist Nico de Soto and a dessert menu overseen by Pierre Herme. The restaurant is reservations-only, and has a popular counterpart in Paris.

Beige Alain Ducasse, on the 10th floor of Chanel in Ginza, Tokyo, offers views over the city, and French food with Japanese ingredients.

Beige Alain Ducasse, on the 10th floor of Chanel in Ginza, Tokyo, offers views over the city, and French food with Japanese ingredients.

CORSO COMO, MILAN

Owner Carla Sozzani, a former fashion editor and publisher, opened Corso Como in 1991 as a hybrid of a gallery, boutique, and dining destination. Its original Milan location features a ground-floor cafe, serving elegant small plates, pastas, risottos, salads, and more, plus extensive cocktail and wine lists. Also on the ground floor is a clothing shop, while upstairs you’ll find a book and design store, an art gallery, and a three-room hotel with full-service amenities. The building itself is eye-catching, fostering a seamless indoor-outdoor feel with floor-to-ceiling windows, a courtyard, garden, and terraces from which to take it all in. Sozzani has also opened branches in Seoul, Shanghai, and at the South Street Seaport in New York.

RALPH’S COFFEE BAR AT POLO RALPH LAUREN, LONDON

In New York, Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar made a successful debut in 2015, generating monthslong waiting lists. And in 2017, the designer made his London dining foray, opening this cafe beside Polo Ralph Lauren’s flagship store. Outfitted with plenty of dark wood, leather booths, and gleaming finishes, Ralph’s Coffee Bar serves caffeinated drinks, cocktails, and wine, along with country-club style dishes such as club sandwiches and lobster rolls. There’s also a brunch menu and, fittingly for the U.K., a prix fixe afternoon tea, complete with sandwiches and dessert. The environment is cozier than some other retail restaurant locations, with limited seating at tables and the bar. Next door, shop for men’s, women’s, and children’s apparel, as well as home goods and cosmetics.

BEIGE ALAIN DUCASSE AT CHANEL GINZA, TOKYO

Japan is known for impressive department-store dining options, but the Chanel outlet in Ginza, which reopened in September 2018 after a renovation, takes the concept a step further with Beige Alain Ducasse. The high-end dining destination, on the building’s 10th floor, serves French food prepared with Japanese ingredients under the guidance of executive chef Kei Kojima. The decor, too, has an East-meets-West flair, with warm hues and minimalist style. Prix fixe and à la carte options are available, highlighting locally sourced ingredients. On lunch and dinner menus, expect to see dishes ranging from foie gras with roasted apples to fish served with daikon and yuzu. On the lower floors are three stories of Chanel boutiques, as well as a Chanel event space that hosts concerts and fashion exhibitions.

The seasonal prix fixe menu at Graanmarkt in Antwerp, Belgium, changes on a daily basis.

The seasonal prix fixe menu at Graanmarkt in Antwerp, Belgium, changes on a daily basis.


GRAANMARKT, ANTWERP, BELGIUM

At Graanmarkt, which opened in 2010, owners Ilse Cornelissens and Tim Van Geloven offer a store, restaurant, and apartment, all under one roof. The couple selects every product for sale at the shop, creating a curated blend of high-end fashion, home goods, and cosmetics, sourced from around the world. On the basement level is a restaurant run by chef Seppe Nobels, who oversees a seasonal prix fixe menu that changes daily, in a bright, friendly space with marble-topped tables and modern art. For something more casual, Nobels also runs a food truck out front on Saturdays, serving fast but healthy dishes with local ingredients. Recently, after renovations from Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen, Cornelissens and Van Geloven have converted the building’s top-floor apartment into a full-floor hotel that can accommodate up to six guests at a time.