Collectors Cafe and Gallery will rise from the ashes and reopen with alfresco dining in a large open-air courtyard, an indoor/outdoor bar, increased dining space and other changes and additions.
The fine-dining restaurant which featured works by artists including managing partner Tommy Davis and former co-owner Mike Smith has been closed since it was badly damaged by fire in July 2020.
“We’ve been open for 26 years, and what I plan to do is build something that’s going to last for the next 26 years,” said Davis, whose family owns the building. “Now we have an opportunity. I am building a legacy for my family.
Davis said he traveled to places such as Rome, Cartagena, Colombia and Asheville, North Carolina for building and decorating ideas.
“I don’t even look at what was there before; I’m walking around now to see what’s going to happen,” Davis said. “I’m considering this and that. I already see it and feel it.
Davis plans to host ‘The Blank Canvas’ art exhibit in the courtyard in July, around the second anniversary of the fire, with drinks and entertainment to preview the restaurant, which he hopes to open by then the end of the year.
“I work on it every day,” he said.
Rebuild the Collectors Cafe
The roof on the south side of the business, which housed the cafe in the former restaurant, is removed to create the open-air outdoor courtyard which will share a bar with an indoor dining area.
A V-shaped butterfly-style roof made of cypress wood and steel will span the yard 20 feet above the ground. The front facade of the building along the roof will remain, and an iron or steel door below will serve as a courtyard entrance.
The courtyard will be heated and cooled and will feature trees, ferns and other vegetation, as well as a living wall with plants, possibly including Confederate Jasmine. There will also be live plants inside.
“It’s going to be a real plush green,” Davis said.
The front facade of the building will also feature ivy or other vegetation.
“We’re going to try to make it look like a Dublin-style pub,” Davis said.
The initial dining room which will be accessed through the main entrance and courtyard will have a velor booth and table seating, an open kitchen for diners to view prepared meals, and at least two bars with seating. Davis said seating will exceed 200 indoors and outdoors, and bar space will increase 150% from the pre-fire configuration.
Davis expects the main dining room to be somewhat casual, and a second room will be quieter for fine dining and can offer a more upscale menu.
“I don’t want it to be so polished all the time,” Davis said. “I want people to come in regularly and have more casual food up front, but still have a menu for nicer things like fish, steak and our specialties.”
A dessert and coffee bar is provided for the main dining room near the entrance. An additional 1,000 square feet is added to the restaurant which was previously a neighboring hair salon behind the nearby subway, and it is currently used as an art studio.
Davis is still considering its future use, and it could become a storage room for wine and high-end whiskeys and bourbons used for special events and private dining, or a speakeasy with canapes.
Fill in the return
The facade of the building has already been repainted, the sign and the lion’s head are black on a white background. Interior colors will be light and soft.
Perhaps most importantly, a sprinkler system is added inside.
“You gotta have it,” Davis said.
Collectors opened in 1994 after a seven-month renovation of a former doctor’s office.
“We took a doctor’s office and turned it into a restaurant,” Davis said. “Now we are able to take a restaurant and turn it into an even better restaurant by putting things where they should have been.”
Davis, who will be looking for a management team in the coming months, considered a name change to go along with the restaurant’s fresh start.
“But so many people told me they wanted it to be collectors, which encouraged me to call it the old collectors,” he said.