For nearly a year now the powers that be at the elegant and esteemed American Restaurant in Crown Center have been plotting and planning. Tinkering even.
Their mission: to young down the crowd at the upscale eatery which has fallen into somewhat forgotten times with the 35 and under set. In other words, the cool people downtown that flood First Fridays and are regulars at high end eateries such as Michael Smith‘s Extra Virgin and bluestem in Westport.
Enter the Bar American.
“One of the things we realized is that most people, if you asked them what The American is, they’d say that it’s kind of a special occasion place,” says Jenny Kincaid, a local “busy-body, connector & communicator.”
The idea being to broaden the American’s appeal to a younger audience with disposable dollars and an appetite for partying.
“Absolutely,” Kincaid says. “It’s just something that not a lot of people have thought much about and that’s what we want to change.”
To that end, the Bar American has established a new small plates menu and drink specials like the Sunset on Grand, a potent mix of 360 Vodka, Lillet Blonde, Aperol and pomegranate.
“I wouldn’t recommend more than two in an hour,” cautions mixologist/inventor Matt Vincent, who was inspired by the American’s picturesque sunset views. “I mean, it’s a serious cocktail.”
To bolster the new lounge’s image, the American is offering First Friday lunches and half off valet parking, bar food, cocktails and beer and wine from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
“I think our December First Friday lunches are already sold out,” Kincaid says.
Other things being contemplated include Beer Dinners – that’s right – beer dinners at the vaunted American.
The lounge’s new atmosphere: “Sophisticated and sexy with a little bit of child’s play,” Kincaid muses. “I mean, we are all working professionals, but we all want to let loose and have a good cocktail.”
Oh yeah, there’s no dress code other than perhaps tastefully casual.
“I opened this place in 1974,” Grandison says. “That’s how long I’ve been here.”
The wildest thing Grandison’s seen in those 38 or so years at The American?
“In this place?” he says. “Oh, I’ve had Henry Kissinger, Harry Belafonte, Betty White, John Voight, Robert Redford and Tony Bennett. But the only wild thing that’s happened here is me.”
Grandison does recall the time actress Elizabeth Taylor stiffed The American.
“She had a reservation here,” he says, “but she no-showed and went out to Stroud’s on 83rd and Troost.”
“We don’t want to reinvent who we are,” says 20-something Tara Truax, the American’s event sales supervisor. “But there’s such a young demo in this area – people who have a disposable income – that didn’t even know we existed. We don’t want to go away from fine dining, the white tablecloths, we don’t want to go casual. But we want people to know they can come here and not have to wear a suit and tie.
“Everything about us is now newer, fresher – it’s sophisticated – but fun. I’ve been here almost a year and I’ve kind of brought in my young voice which I’m not afraid to share. That’s what’s got us to where we are now.”