Alex Plotkin, who owns the steakhouse Chops in Bala Cynwyd, confirmed that he will indeed open a restaurant in the former Oceanaire at 700 Walnut St. on the northwest edge of Washington Square, on the ground floor of the St. James.
- Working name: Chops Too.
- Concept: a mix of steakhouse and seafood/sushi.
- Less-pricey than Chops in Bala: Lunch $8 to $18; dinner $17 to $30; bar menu with most items under $9.
- Beef from such brands as Brandt, Niman Ranch, and NatureSource, including prime New York strip and center-cut (barrel cut) filet mignon.
- A 19th-century former PSFS building with 40-foot ceilings.
- Free valet parking at night.
- Wines by the glass will start at $6, with most of the list under $60.
- Raw-bar equipment to be removed in favor of a contiguous bar
- Wine lockers, temperature-controlled wine cellar, Riedel and Schott Zwiesel stemware.
- Continuous service from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays; open for dinner weekends.
- Comp pickles and radishes, cottage fries, and hash browns.
- Opening February.
Plotkin, whose interest in the space was rumored several months ago, obtained it for a tiny fraction of the $6 million that Oceanaire spent in 2005-06 to convert it into a restaurant. Oceanaire, open just 2½ years, closed in July after the Minneapolis-based company filed for bankruptcy protection.
As for Plotkin: He's a Culinary Institute of America grad who worked at Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., and at Windows on the World in NYC before he entered the wine game as a sommelier/maitre d'. He worked for the Four Seasons properties in Dallas, Houston, and Toronto, and then landed at the one in Philly. (He was on the hotel chain's wine-buying panel.) After six years on Logan Square, he moved to the Palm in the Bellevue, where he became general manager and national wine buyer for the Palm restaurants. He left in 2002 to open Chops, at 401 City Ave.