When Grace Restaurant closes and relocates, late next year, in St. Vibiana's rectory downtown, it will be after some pretty extensive work has been done to the space. The restaurant will occupy two floors of the the 1933 rectory, underneath Cardinal Mahoney's old suite (now a bridal suite) and a floor of offices, as well as the outside courtyard. Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser will also take over the former sacristy of the cathedral, which they have converted into a catering kitchen. The cathedral itself is now used for events, and the Frasers are negotiating a deal to be the primary caterer for those events from the remodeled kitchen, which will also be the center of Grace's catering operations. The Frasers are working with interior designers Steve Ross and Mark Hermosillo and architect Antonio Muniz, all three of whom the Frasers met because they are regular diners at Grace.
"We want to stay away from anything churchy, or medieval or castle-like" said Knoll Fraser recently as she gave us a tour of the stunning space. "Clean and simple lines, but faithful to the architecture. We want to honor it without overpowering it." The ground floor will be opened up to include built-in fountains and French doors which will lead to the courtyard. The courtyard itself will be filled with tables and covered with glass. The second floor will be divided up into intimate private dining rooms and furnished with estate sale pieces. "We want to do pig roast dinners, whole salmon baked in clay up here," said Neal Fraser. "Russian service with lots of carts," added his wife.
In addition, they'll put in an extensive wine room in the basement and a roof-top terrace overlooking the courtyard--and the cathedral, which will make for some pretty spectacular dinner viewing. One section of the second floor, which will have its own separate entrance, will be converted into a bar and lounge area, with a more casual menu. "It's not your typical roof-top bar; more like a Parisian flea market vibe," said Fraser. The Frasers are also putting in a rooftop garden and a chef's table. There will also be 100 parking spaces opened up in a nearby lot, as well as valet parking on 2nd street, at the wrought iron gates.
Although the Frasers are not religious, Amy Knoll Fraser was raised a Catholic, and says that she knew as soon as she walked in and heard that the space was available that they had to try and get it. Saint Vibiana, for whom the cathedral was named, is the patron saint of nobodies, said Knoll Fraser. Her remains were once in the cathedral, but were moved when the new cathedral was built.
As for the menu at the new Grace, possibly to be called Grace at Vibiana's, it'll be similar to the current Grace menu, "more price-conscious, pretty accessible," said Fraser. "I want to have more fun with tasting menus." It will be open for lunch during the week and for brunch on Sundays. "I don't want to be BLD for lunch," said Fraser. "I want to do lobster, fun stuff, prosecco mimosas and a Bloody Mary bar. This place just screams brunch, don't you think?"
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