French-Lebanese architect and designer Annabel Karim Kassar has brought together opulence and theatrics for the debut of New York restaurant Ella Funt, a ‘neo-bistro’ serving a unique take on French cuisine in the heart of Manhattan.
Located in the former and legendary Club 82, a New York Drag Institution in the 1950s and 1960s, Ella Funt is named after one of the club’s better known artists and harks back to the rich history and ambience of the original space. The owner of the venue’s new concept, entrepreneur and restaurateur Lounes Mazouz, enlisted the skills of AKK Architects founder Annabel Karim Kassar to combine a nod to the golden age of New York decadence with a bold new identity for the restaurant that embraces its dynamic future to come.
Drawing on a special blend of colour, light and texture, dinners will enjoy a sensual atmosphere that serves as a dramatic stage for the restaurant’s fare, chef Nick Koustefanou and sous chef Zoumana Meite using French cuisine as a vehicle for the best in-seasonal ingredients and worldly flavours, serving food that is expertly crafted to be both complex yet welcoming.
Marking a departure from the current trend for pared back restaurant designs in New York, Karim Kassar looks back to the character and drama of bygone New York treasures; nostalgically referencing the dizzying beauty of the now closed Palio on West 51st, known and loved for its arresting ceiling-high mural by Neo-Expressionist painter Sandro Chia, through artistic commissions and applying her own expressive hand throughout the space.
“For me, a restaurant needs a strong sense of place and a certain drama, not anonymity,” comments the designer. “You should be excited as soon as you step foot into it. With Ella Funt, my wish was to honour the memory of the original Club 82 whilst creating something that felt new and contemporary. I looked to capture a total human experience, there is something for everyone who enters.”
From immersive large-scale murals to the ‘Gold Toilet’ complete with a window overlooking the stairway into the nightclub, Ella Funt is a new place to see and be seen in this city’s most iconic sense. New York’s newest rendezvous where a restaurant, theatre and nightclub will reside under the same roof (the Club 82 venue is expected to follow in late 2023), Ella Funt steps back to the wild days of counterculture, civil and gay rights, disco, ballroom, punk and beyond; gracing the city that never sleeps with a new nighttime haunt in a very old mould.