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5 Most Over-the-Top Earnest Things About Eleven Madison Park’s Renovation

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Make! It! Nice!

“Make It Nice” sign in EMP
EMP’s mantra and mascot in the kitchen
Will Guidara/Instagram

Eleven Madison Park is still going real hard on symbolism in its renovation. The premier fine dining restaurant whose mission is to “make it nice” has been reopen following its snazzy redesign for just over a week, and the earnestness over the changes keeps reaching new and higher levels.

Now that the big reveal has happened, chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara have been sharing smaller details about the new space, giving everyone a peek inside the process. It’s all pretty heady and positively dripping money, and practically everything has some sort of double meaning with the fact that it’s a big change for these guys. These are the most earnest and over-the-top pieces of the new EMP:

Don’t Be All, Like, Uncool

Humm and Guidara idolize late jazz performer Miles Davis, and there’s now a sign with 11 touchstone words inspired by Davis hanging in the kitchen, from collaborative to spontaneous, and of course “endless reinvention,” an ongoing theme for the EMP crew. But first on the list, at all times, staff is reminded to just be cool.

New Beginnings

That painting might not look like a symbol for change, but the idea of new beginnings is embedded here, too. Humm can explain this one best: “A chalkboard is an incredible platform for learning, creating, erasing and new beginnings. If you think about how much knowledge over years accumulate on a classrooms chalkboard it’s pretty inspiring. Rita redrew the painting we previously had in the restaurant of the park in her own way on a chalkboard and the started to erasing and abstracting it with the idea of a fresh start as were we are @elevenmadisonpark #makeitnice”.

One Is Silver and the Other Gold

Honoring the old space was clearly important to the team: EMP paid an undisclosed amount of money to have its former steel kitchen equipment melted down and turned into a single step — by celebrated artist Daniel Turner, no less. Again, Humm explains the symbolism here: “When you're entering the new Eleven Madison Park you're crossing over history... you're stepping over the old kitchen to be in the new restaurant.”

Changing Direction

This one’s a little more far-reaching, but Humm and Guidara commissioned another artist to tackle the concept of change. Olympia Scarry made the stained glass windows that hang above the entrance, and they face south to north. Previously, the restaurant’s stained glass windows had faced east to west — the change in direction is supposed to signify the restaurant’s similar direction change. (Though, to be clear, nothing has changed about the concept of the restaurant. It is just wearing new clothes.)

Bringing the Outside Inside

Madison Square Park, where the restaurant is located, is a big source of comfort for Humm, who considers it a constant in his currently evolving new world. With that in mind, he and Guidara had a Sol LeWitt drawing used as wallpaper in one of the private dining rooms. LeWitt is an American artist who made two of the park’s earliest public artworks in 2005, inspiring a lawn to be named for him. By bringing pieces of the park inside — also look to the four leaves logo — the idea here is that Humm and Guidara are showing their sense of place and adding some stability to the new space.

Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10010 (212) 889-0905 Visit Website

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