Even in a city known for its restaurants and political dealing, The Procaccianti Group sees a need for a meeting place where Providence politicians and business leaders can hash out a few deals over drinks.
And the Cranston real estate development and property-management firm thinks it has found just the place at the Renaissance Providence Hotel, which it bought from Sage Hospitality in the final days of 2012.
The 272-room Renaissance, a Marriott franchise, is expected to remain virtually unchanged under the deal, but Procaccianti has big plans for the restaurant-lounge known under the previous ownership as Temple.
In the next three to six months, Procaccianti intends to renovate, retool and rebrand the restaurant and lounge into a hub for Ocean State power brokers looking for craft cocktails and seasonal food.
“Basically, we want to create a meeting place that brings together the Statehouse with the Financial District,” said Procaccianti spokesman Ralph Izzi Jr. “In Washington, D.C., you have a lot of those kinds of places and in Providence I don’t know of one, at least one situated between the capitol and downtown like this.”
Procaccianti plans to launch the new restaurant, with a new name, chef and concept, next month, before beginning work on interior renovations. Until that official relaunch, many details of the new project are being kept secret.
But what has emerged is that the space, especially the large lounge, will focus on the increasingly fashionable world of “artisanal” cocktails, original mixed drinks that often employ nontraditional ingredients.
“A lot of what’s new these days is in the craft-cocktail culture,” said Frank Recupero, partner in Procaccianti’s Downtown Restaurant Group. “In some ways it is bringing the whole farm-to-table aspect of food into cocktails. It is more of a bespoke cocktail, made to order, with infused vodkas and bourbons. It is like bringing elements of the kitchen out behind the bar.”
When it opens, the new Renaissance bar will hardly be the first or only establishment in Providence to highlight craft cocktails. In fact, most of the restaurants in the city with the best reputations for innovative cuisine take a similarly creative approach to drinks.
But many of those places are part of the fiercely independent, somewhat quirky, local culinary scene, which doesn’t always cater to the suit-and-tie crowd. The year-old Dorrance in the ornate, first-floor lobby of the Union Trust Building may be the most high-end of the places known for its original mixed drinks.