Flaunting Royals

Nick and Sam's owners Joe Palladino and Phil Romano have a name for their 4,000-square-foot, semiprivate nightclub scheduled to open the second week in October. It's Medici, which is Italian for affluent, royal family. Hmm. Could that moniker come off as a little snobby? "I think it might," Palladino admits. "It's going to be the dress-to-impress type of groups...We're directly across the street from Stanley Korshak, and I like running first-class operations and really treating people like royalty." He says the "snob appeal" perception actually plays into their targeted demo group. The "sophisticated" club on the corner of Maple Avenue and Cedar Springs Road just across from the Crescent Court seeks to lure the affluent 30-plus crowd with high-end hooch, premium wines and bubbles and an elevator entry system (affluence being an upper) with marble and brushed wood walls. Flocked with burgundy velvet draperies and stocked with oversized stuffed leather couches and chairs, rich dark wood, an elevated VIP section and a light appetizer menu, "Medici's multimillion-dollar ambience," Palladino says, will have a "timeless '40s retro" slickness. Put that oxymoron in your pipe and smoke it, which you can at Medici, as it is mostly a bar and neatly slips through the smoking ban loophole. Not to be saddled with membership fees, Medici members will be hand-picked by Romano and Palladino, and a special VIP list will be generated nightly, mostly from the evening's roster of Nick & Sam's diners. The rest of you can eat cake and fondly recall the fates of history's other flaunting royals--such as Marie Antoinette.

Romano is busy forging other relationships as well. The Macaroni Grill and Eatzi's creator has inked a partnership with Compass Group North America, the world's largest contract food service purveyor, to develop new business in the United States with a focus on the Southwest. Compass Group is part of U.K.-based Compass Group PLC, which generates some $17 billion in annual revenues, services museums, airports, health-care facilities, sporting and performing-arts venues and operates posh restaurants in New York, Chicago and California... Jon Stevens is the new executive chef at Mignon. The former chef de cuisine at The Mercury in The Shops at Willow Bend and one-time consulting chef at Kent Rathbun's Jasper's slipped into the post late last month. He is radically altering Mignon's menu, discarding the threadbare steak-house motif and channeling some French cuisine, like "freedom" sweetbreads perhaps. "I walked in here and I was like, 'Oh, my God. This whole place needs to change.'"

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