Seasonal restaurants: What a concept

Local, seasonal ingredients have always been at the forefront of California cuisine, and have recently become the focus for many top-notch restaurants across the country. Now Park Avenue Winter, a restaurant in Manhattan, has taken this concept to a new level, by introducing itself each season with a new name, a new look, and a completely different food and beverage menu to reflect time of year. Just two weeks ago the restaurant was named Park Avenue Autumn (far below photo), and several months before that it was Park Avenue Summer.

Park Avenue Winter

I first learned of this restaurant through New York magazine’s review. Interestingly enough, the venture is owned by the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group — at first guess I would not have supposed a chain restaurant company would invest more than $1.5 million in such a fluid venture. Recently, the restaurant closed its doors to make the switch from autumn to winter. Over a period of 48 hours, the restaurant updated its menu to include classics such as coq au vin and walnut gingerbread with pureed apple, switched its uniforms to be white suits with white ties, and changed its backdrop setting to be entirely white, in contrast to its fall setup of copper and auburn hues.

Park Avenue Autumn

Is this a smart idea? I’m not sure. From a business point of view, it wouldn’t seem to be that way, given the costs of renovating four times a year. However, it will almost certainly ensure that patrons will return regularly to scope out the new digs, so it’s a way to bring diners back on a semi-regular basis. What are your thoughts on this concept? Do you think it’s a fleeting idea, or here to stay? Do you think the concept will catch on in other parts of the country?

Either way, one thing’s for sure: This new experiment keeps the New York restaurant scene fun and exciting.

Photos: Park Avenue Winter (top); Park Avenue Autumn (bottom).

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