The first U.S. location of Parisian favorite, Le Coq Rico, is now open at 30-32 East 20th Street.
Architectural and design firm of Montroy Andersen DeMarco (MADGI) joined forces with Paris-based Pascal Desprez to develop the design for the restaurant, the brainchild of Michelin three–star chef and owner, Antoine Westermann, and business partner, Francis Staub.
Nicknamed “The Bistro of Beautiful Birds,” Le Coq Rico is a neighbor to some of New York’s most popular restaurants. It occupies the entire storefront in the Gabay Building, owned and managed by Walter & Samuels. MADGI also designed the recent historic restoration of the building.
The project team for the new Le Coq Rico brings together leading international heavyweights of the restaurant, hospitality, and architectural worlds.
The original Le Coq Rico became famous for its gourmet poultry dishes, especially roasted chicken, which commands a cult-like following among both Parisians and tourists alike.
Le Coq Rico in Manhattan is Westermann’s first fully owned restaurant in the United States. However, he has been active in the U.S. since 2002, having served as a chef and consultant to several American restaurants, including Café du Parc on Pennsylvania Avenue and Café 15 at the Sofitel Hotel, both in Washington, D.C.
Westermann’s business partner and fellow Alsatian Francis Staub has developed a line of high-end cookware and bakeware under the Staub en France brand.
The architectural team also consists of international A-listers. Principal Daniel Montroy, AIA, led MADGI’s team for Le Coq Rico. His firm’s projects include the recent renovation of the beloved New York City landmark restaurant, the Rainbow Room; the new 90,000 s/f World Trade Center Observatory, which attracts over four million visitors annually; and the 230-room citizenM New York hotel. MADGI was also the architect for Bill’s Bar & Burger restaurants at Rockefeller Center and at the New York Marriott Downtown.
Pascal Desprez is celebrated as a prestigious international residential and hospitality architect. His portfolio spans the globe, from Paris to Marrakesh, New York City, the Middle East, and the Far East.
The 132-seat, U-shaped restaurant features a full bar; a wine cave, which is an area with an illuminated wall that serves as a wine chiller; a dining area with lacquer-top tables and seating as well as two communal tables; and a very high-end show kitchen with bar-style seating for 18.
Overall, the design is meant to pay homage to the original Le Coq Rico in Paris, but is much more refined. Thus, it has wide-plank oak flooring throughout, walls and ceilings –reminiscent of a farmhouse – are sandblasted and white-painted Canadian oak, with black mirror-like accents made of black back-painted backlit glass on walls.
The interior also houses a feature wall across from the kitchen made of Moonface marble. The 16’ feature wall is illuminated with an LED wall wash.
When the maître d’ takes patrons from the front, each gets a glimpse of the entire restaurant, as they must walk through the restaurant’s individual sections, i.e., the wine cave, then the dining room with its wall unit of dishes and communal tables, and then the show kitchen.
The project team installed a new angled 21’x5’ skylight which features prominently in the dining room. Energy-efficient LED lighting is used throughout, backlighting the black back-painted glass and with down lights over the dining tables. Continuous linear LED fixtures illuminate the show kitchen’s dining counter. The cellar has storage and a wine room.
The 670-square foot kitchen is appointed with Bonnet custom ovens manufactured in France and each shipped in two pieces. Two rotisserie ovens by Rotisol are also featured (Rotisserie MF 1375.6OLG), with each able to roast up to 36 chickens at a time.
The eating bar flanking the kitchen has bar-height seats and offers a front-row center look in on the show in the kitchen. There are interactions between the cooks and the patrons sitting in this section, with offers of small plates of what they are cooking. The bar top is stone and the bottom is wood and stone.
MADGI project manager Mark Vella said the most challenging part of the project was the seating. “Fitting 132 seats in a fairly small, unusually shaped restaurant, given how much space the kitchen had to take, took creativity,” he said.
“Also, fitting in the lighting and mechanical equipment in a shallow ceiling required much careful coordination among the trades,” he continued.
The interior features a selection of new works by the celebrated American visual artist Doug Fitch, including a large, backlit painting of a stylized rooster.
To create the kitchen, MADGI specified opening up the back wall. Structural engineer Eric Crowley put in a steel beam to reinforce the area. Other partners were mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineer 2LS Consulting Engineering, and Premium Supply was the kitchen consultant.