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Follow Sage Restaurant Group every step of the way as it works to open Urban Farmer in Cleveland next April. The modern steakhouse is part of an $80-million hotel project.
• GALLERY: A peek inside Urban Farmer
I know Urban Farmer Cleveland will be a modern steakhouse. That’s how Sage Restaurant Group describes the concept. And this summer, I learned firsthand it would also have a strong farm-to-table focus as I explored the farms of Ohio with a crew of Sage execs.
But how will the restaurant really look and feel?
“Imagine a rancher,” Peter Karpinski says, “who meets and marries this sophisticated art dealer from Cleveland, and this is their redesigned farmhouse. It will have a farm feel, with modern, cosmopolitan touches.”
That story—Karpinski’s version of Green Acres—is what David Ashen is now telling through the interior design of the 220-seat restaurant scheduled to open this spring.
The renowned designer has made the trip to Cleveland from his New York Dash Design studio and is sitting around a long table on the second floor of the $80-million Westin Hotel still under construction. He’s talking to Kristin Cullen, one of his interior designers, and Karpinski, the head of Sage Restaurant Group. They’re standing and leaning over a table that’s scattered with drawings and sketches, boards of materials, colors and swatches and pictures and renderings of furniture and art they’re considering.
They’re going through the design development presentation, page by page, assessing and updating every piece of the plan Ashen started before Sage even acquired the property in 2011. They’ve already walked the entire ground-floor restaurant this cold fall morning, noting areas of concern and other questions that are now being discussed and debated.
Ashen tells me of the mixed aesthetic—“rural chic”—he’s been charged with creating. Karpinski fills me in on the backstory, of how his restaurant-creating process starts with a narrative like this to describe the concept. Here, it’s this unique marriage between farm and cosmopolitan, which he says, will modernize the traditional steakhouse in a way that will make it more female friendly.
We’re in what has to be the only functional room of this massive construction project, in what could almost pass for a large conference room, minus the white hard hats strewn across the space. The audible beep, beep, beeping of vehicles in reverse and the not-so-distant banging of construction work are constant reminders that the surrounding hotel and restaurant are still a work in progress.