After being closed for remodeling for nearly three months, Restaurant 1620 reopens Friday, Sept. 21, as 1620 Savoy, a name that pays tribute to Harlem’s the first integrated jazz club (1620 was owned by African-American chef Evette Brady) and to the new look’s jazz-era flavor.
Rick Qualls, who managed 1620 for former owner Brady (she’s gone into catering) and now owns the restaurant, brought his musical theater background to bear on the main dining room design, with its art-deco inspired marble floors, white leather chairs, hidden blue lighting, antique French advertising posters and a bar done in black and white tile and zebra carpeting.
The restaurant also has a casual side now, where you can eat from the same menu as the fine dining side — which includes 1620 favorites like filet mignon and liver and onions along with newly added dishes involving smoked duck, miso-glazed Tasmanian salmon, Dover sole and oysters — dressed in your cut-offs. Chefs are Tim Morton, Payne Harding and John Masching, all of whom are planning a new restaurant in the River Market district in a yet-to-be-built Central Arkansas Library System addition that will also feature a movie theater.
The casual side has a bar and bar menu (croque monsieur, smoked duck tacos) as well, where nothing is more expensive than $12, and a walled patio where, Qualls said, “a water fountain flows into a fire pit.” The casual side will transform into the Club Savoy from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights, with a DJ. The restaurant will be open for dinner daily except for its first Sunday, Sept. 23.