The Philadelphia Art Alliance is finally putting to better use its restaurant, whose garden makes it the loveliest spot on Rittenhouse Square.
Catering giant Restaurant Associates just dropped the info that its in-house chef Ed Brown will be remaking what is now known as Gardenia -- you ever hear of it either? -- into what it describes as a place featuring "accessible, modern American cuisine, serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch." It is tagged for a fall opening under an unnamed Philly chef.
Gardenia will close after brunch Sunday, July 31. Elisabeth Knapp of Knapp Interiors, who designed Zahav, Xochitl and Percy Street Barbecue, will do the interior and garden.
The spot had an interesting past before the Art Alliance brought in RA to manage.
It was known as Le Jardin as the year 2006 was ushered in. Attendees at a public New Year's Eve party thrown by an outside promoter ended up trashing the place and stealing two works by artist Antonio Puri. Shortly after, Le Jardin owner Athmane Kabir left the operation. (Kabir had become notorious for running through chefs, including one young guy named Kevin Sbraga, who later won Top Chef.)
Before Le Jardin, it was known as Opus 251. Its chef for a spell back in 1999 was Guy Sileo, who at the time was under suspicion for the 1996 murder of his business partner at the General Wayne Inn. Sileo was billed on Opus' menu as "Guy Angelo," his first and middle names. He now has a job for life at the State Correctional Institution in Somerset, Pa.