Tired of the loud and jam-packed atmosphere that so often accompanies happy hours and celebratory get-togethers? Foodies and cocktail connoisseurs alike can finally find exclusive refuge in a private event space tucked away in Omar's, a New York City hot spot that claimed residency in a historic brownstone 50 years ago.
The downtown Manhattan staple, which typically caters to the high-fashion crowd (they have hosted parties for Monique Lhuillier and Gucci and boast clientele like Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Chung, and Diane Kruger), has recently opened its private dining area. The space offers zero waiting time, an array of dishes (from mushroom croquettes to cheesecake pretzel bites), and an elegant ambiance. It's the perfect hideaway to complement its iconic parent restaurant.
"We wanted the space to have a residential feel, so we pulled some deco details from Omar [Hernandez]’s Miami home to help define the architecture, in instances like stepped tray ceilings, and millwork details," says Dan Mazzarini of BHDM Design, who, along with Brian Humphrey, fronted the creation of the private club. The design duo has also worked on hip New York City restaurant The Lion, the soon-to-be-opened Hogs Head Tavern, and retail stores for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Kate Spade.
Despite needing additional space for people to gather and food service sites, Mazzarini explains that the design process for retail stores and event spaces coincide. "In both instances, we try to build a narrative that helps to inform all the design decisions, not only for the space, but affecting all elements of the experience—from graphics, menu designs, to uniforms," he says. "In building the story, it helps to create and maintain continuity across all parts of the experience."
The end result is a timeless hub with a hint of edge that puts patrons in the forefront. "Our goal was to put the members and guests as the focus, and to let the space be the backdrop to their experiences," Mazzarini says.
1. PRIVATE BAR
"The chairs were found at the Paris Flea market. They were in shabby condition when we got them," says Dan Mazzarini, designer of the private space. "We had them repaired, lacquered black, and reupholstered in this fun print to make them a conversation piece."
2. PRIVATE BAR
On the most difficult part of designing the space, Mazzarini says, "Working underground was a challenge both to brighten the space, and to get things in and out! Ten-foot custom sofas were quite a challenge."
3. PRIVATE BAR
A Helmut Newton photograph adorns the gold-leafed bookcase in the bar. "Gold in a space should be used like jewelry," Mazzarini says.
"A friend and amazing talent Caitlin McGauley did a slew of custom watercolors for the private club," says the designer, citing the framed urns in the back.
"We found this piece in a coffee shop in Bushwick," says Mazzarini of the photograph by Jonathan Pilkington. "We thought it was perfect, and asked the artist to blow it up for us."
6. PRIVATE DINING ROOM
The chairs and ceiling mural in this room were designed by BHDM. "Hermes leather and vintage palettes of black, white, camel and green influenced the restaurant," Mazzarini says.
7. PRIVATE DINING ROOM
The designer is a fan of "beautiful mirrors and anything white plaster." He offers an important home styling tip to keep in mind: "Love whatever you put in your home, and don’t be in a rush," he says. "Collections are created and best curated over time."