Great Design: Marquee Grill & Bar and the Village Theatre

The main dining room at the Marquee.
Photo by Justin Clemons

Swank . . . photographer Justin Clemons and I recently worked on a story for Modern Luxury magazine about the stunning design of Highland Park Village's new two-story Marquee Grill & Bar. The name pays homage to the Village Theatre next door, a 75- year-old national historic landmark that reopened last December after a $5 million face-lift. Both the theater and the restaurant are owned by Twomey Concepts, who teamed up with Ray Washburne, the center's co-owner and lifelong Park Cities resident, to help bring the theater back to its original art deco glory.

Sandwiched between the Village Theatre and Escada, the Marquee Grill & Bar
is new construction made to look like it's been around
for 75 years. Photo courtesy of Twomey Concepts.

The main dining room at the Marquee.
Photo by Rebecca Sherman

The Marquee started out as an idea for a pizza parlor on the lower floor of the theater, but quickly evolved iont a multimillion-dollar, chef driven restaurant next door, featuring Tre Wilcox, former Abacus chef de cuisine and one-time Top Chef contender. Check out his critically acclaimed menu here.

The downstairs dining room at the Marquee has a view of
chef Tre Wilcox's European-style, open kitchen. The geometric pattern
of the Italian tile over the kitchen,as well as the custom rug,
were inspired by designs favored during the mid-century
by David Hicks, who was also fond of using bentwood cane chairs.
Photo courtesy of Twomey Concepts.

Design details at the Marquee include art deco-inspired etched goblets,
simple yellow daisies,chrome salt and pepper shakers, and '60s style bubble
lighting pendants from Scott + Cooner. Photo by Rebecca Sherman

In addition to chef Wilcox's New American fare, the Marquee is dishing up some serious interior design. Inspired by a bold, graphic style popularized in the '60s and '70s by renowned London decorator and socialite David Hicks, the first floor was envisioned to appeal to a mostly female, fashion-conscious crowd who frequents the Village. There are slimmer booths, lighter woods, and lighting designed to flatter skin tones, say designer Jan Martin and architect Paul Jankowski, of the Dallas firm Zero 3, who worked on the restaurant and theater.

The Marquee's sleek lobby. Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

"You have great boutiques all around (the Village) like Chanel, Escada, and St. John, but there wasn't particularly a restaurant that catered to women," says the architect Paul Jankowsi, who took suggestions to heart from Washburne's wife, Heather, and from Elisa Summers, wife of Washburne's business partner, Stephen Summers, and created an eatery that is as stylish as the neighborhood women.

The Marquee's lobby includes such David Hicksian inspiration as a geometric wrought iron railing and geometric patterned custom carpet. A two-story glassed-in atrium adds modern touch to the shopping center's 75-year-old Spanish revival architecture. Photo by Justin Clemons.

Stairway leading from the first floor lobby to the second
floor dining room and lounge. Note the original Juliet balcony and metal railing
which were retained from the building's exterior, at top right.
Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

It's all in the math. David Hicks' signature hexagon design shows up in the restaurant's custom carpeting, notes designer Jan Martin, and Hicks' penchant for playful geometry is referenced throughout, including the metal screens that divide the booths downstairs, a rail in the entry, custom glass lighting pendants and Italian glass tile over chef Wilcox's European-style, open kitchen.

The Marquee's upstairs dining room is more clubby and masculine,
with exposed brick and leather.The daisies imbue a '60s charm.
Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

The classic bentwood and cane dining chairs were also a favorite of Hicks', says Martin, who selected op art and minimalist works by two artists from Hicks' era, Ellsworth Kelly and Victor Vasarely, for the restaurant's entry.

The upstairs waiters' station is about as chic as it gets,
with exotic macassar ebony and a custom ceramic wall inspired
by the great mid-century modern ceramicist Eva Zeisel,
a longtime favorite of designer Jan Martin's. Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

Jan Martin couldn't have picked a better designer to reference, given the restaurant's well-heeled location. Designer Hicks, who married into royalty, "created elegant, interesting spaces for socializing," she says. "It was a time for lively cocktail parties, smoking, wearing miniskirts, Twiggy, pop art and abstract expressionists. He was one of the first to put contemporary elements and art in historic rooms," she adds, which seems apropos for a new restaurant that is designed to look like it has always been a part of the surrounding historic architecture. To the delight of the neighborhood theater-going regulars, an original wrought-iron Juliet balcony, part of the original exterior wall of the theater, was retained. It now overlooks the front atrium stairwell.

The upstairs bar was modeled after the famed Sazerac
inside New Orleans' hotel Roosevelt. Photo by Justin Clemons.

But the surrounding Highland Park community is so much more than power shopping and ladies who lunch, and owner Brian Twomey knows this. That's why there are three patio spaces for hanging out after work, exercise, tennis or golf. The upstairs dining area, while elegant, is much more casual, with exposed brick walls, cypress paneling, and leather banquettes.

Glamorous and clubby, the lounge area in the bar upstairs is
one of the restaurant's best features, with menswear-inspired details
such as banker's striped pillows, tatersall pattern carpeting,
and chocolate leather and velvet banquettes. The vintage posters
are from Germany. Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

A lounge upstairs, inside a space once devoted to the theater, is geared for the guys (albeit the Q Custom Clothier, Pockets Menswear, and Billy Reid-wearing kind), with chocolate velvet and leather banquettes and menswear shirting accents, such as custom carpeting in a tatersall pattern, and blue and white banker's stripe pillows. Vintage midcentury posters of cigarettes and cigars decorate the walls, and a large cubist style mural, designed by Jan Martin, extends behind several booths and is constructed of painted wood veneers, paper, and cardboard.

A cozy nook inside the lounge area upstairs at the Marquee.
Note the vintage mid-century smoking poster
from Germany and tatersall-inspired carpeting. Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

A custom mural is constructed from painted wood veneers,
cardboard, and paper. Photo by Rebeca Sherman.

The bar, with design reminiscent of the historic Sazerac Bar inside the Roosevelt hotel in New Orleans, is intended to be a destination all its own, with classic white coated bartenders and a full-time professional mixologist, Jason Kosmas, who's created a signature drink for the bar called the Scarf Dancer, made from Titos Handmade Vodka, black currants, lemon juice, and St. Germain elderflower liquer.

The theater's original marquee was rebuilt and glassed-in
so that it could serve as a place for people to have drinks
(It opens off the restaurant's bar upstairs). To keep the theater's original feel,
old fashioned clip-on letters were used for the marquee
in lieu of the expected digital displays.

Hands down, the hottest spot in the place for neighborhood locals turns out to be the glassed in bar area on top of the theater's marquee. Says Twomey: "You can see all of your friends walking around, and it's great fashion-watching. It's the best view in the Park Cities." David Hicks, I think, would probably concur.

Detail of the theater's 1937-built Spanish-revival architecture,
which is consistent throughout the shopping center. Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

Built in 1935 for $100,000 (a princely sum at the time), the Village Theatre was the first luxury theater in Texas and one of the first in the country with sound and color. It underwent a $5 million renovation last December. The lobby, with its solid maple wood paneling, marble tiles from Ann Saks, and zebra wood finishes, resembles a boutique hotel. Private screening rooms include luxurious design and state-of-the-art technology.

The minimalist lobby of the theater is beautifully turned out
in zebra wood, solid wood maple, and Ann Saks marble tiles.
Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

A copy of the original art deco "Under the Sea" mural, discovered in
photos from the late 30s, was recreated by hand along the
stairwell leading from the lobby to the main theaters. Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

Using old photos as a reference, Jan Martin of Zero 3 reproduced the original deco motif by hand, and local artists painted it along the stairwell wall. Beautiful, solid maple wood paneling, which was torn out during a renovation in the '80s, was installed throughout the theater.

Supple leather, zebra wood, solid maple paneling, and a custom rug are some
of the luxurious details that Zero 3 and Twomey Concepts included
in the theater's renovation. Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

An intimate adults-only bar, hidden behind red velvet curtains,
is a big hit with parents who drop their kids off to watch a
movie at the theater. Some of the art deco design details were
brought back from trips to Paris, including two bronze sculptures.
Photo by Justin Clemons.

One of two private luxury screening rooms at the Village Theatre
located next door to the Marquee. The private rooms, which can be rented out,
are sought after by neighborhood families for birthday parties,
says owner Brian Twomey. Photo by Rebecca Sherman.

One of two main theaters inside the Village Theatre includes
luxury seats, and custom LED lighting, premium sound and digital projection.
Photo by Justin Clemons.

One of two main theaters inside the Village Theatre includes
luxury seats, and custom LED lighting, premium sound and digital projection.
Photo by Justin Clemons.

As fitting for a luxury boutique theater located in one of the most privileged neighborhoods in the country, the concession stand offers grilled paninis and popcorn drizzled with truffle oils straight from chef Tre Wilcox's kitchen next door, along with neighborhood favorites like thumb print cookies from Celebrity Cafe & Bakery.

To read my original story in Modern Luxury, go here.