The Palm, which enjoyed a long run as a destination at the Bellevue before closing Feb. 29, 2016, for renovation, will reopen Saturday, July 15.
The restaurant, in a smaller footprint that no longer juts into the building's lobby, is new from top to bottom. The bar, trimmed in wood and with a black granite bar top, is off to one side. The dining room is set with white tablecloths and chocolate brown leather seats and banquettes.
Philadelphia artist Zack Bird created new artwork, including a 512-square-foot, painted mural of the Philadelphia skyline along a series of walls, showcasing iconic buildings and attractions. A small alcove near the bar accommodates a table for 12, beneath a caricature of Sylvester Stallone, with a crutch, proclaiming, "Stand by, Philadelphia, for Rocky 50!"
In addition, dozens of celebrity caricatures are going up on some walls — updating the list of A-, B-, C-, D-, and E-listers that appear in each Palm location, a tradition that dates back to the newspapermen on the walls of the first Palm, in New York City.
During renovations, Palm management had allowed about 500 local customers to retrieve their old caricatures from the walls.
The Palm became a politico hangout shortly after its 1989 opening at Broad and Walnut Streets.
Why the Palm?
"The Palm, first off, was the easiest place everyone could get to," electricians union leader John J. Dougherty told the Inquirer last year. "We would just have our meetings right there. I guess everyone did the same thing." In recent years, the Palm had lost some of its luster to other nearby establishments, notably Capital Grille across Broad Street.
A renovation in 2005 had moved the private dining room upstairs, away from the restaurant's energy. It's now located right off the main dining room.
General manager Paul Sandler, newly starting in Philadelphia after 12 years at the Atlantic City Palm, said his customers at the Shore – many of whom live in Philadelphia or its suburbs – were eager to book tables at the Philadelphia location. "There's pent-up demand," he said. "Brand loyalty is going to be innately to our benefit."