The history and surrounding neighborhood of Harlem inspired the space. The almost 9,000-square-foot, two-story space is filled with details that take you back to the iconic Harlem clubs from the 1940s and 1950s. A wall of graphite scales, red LED lighting, velvet ceilings and diamond-cut floor tiles are intended to take guests back in time. The dining room has spanning windows that give guests a view of 125th Street and the iconic Apollo Theater, which is located right next door. The unique glass and steel accents are unlike what you would see in most Red Lobster restaurants.
One detail that I'm particularly excited about is all the original artwork throughout the restaurant. We commissioned all of the restaurant's artwork through the Harlem Art Alliance to support local artists. Custom images of African-American icons, such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Curtis Mayfield hang in the lounge as tribute to Harlem’s artistic history.
Beyond the community partnerships evident in the artwork around the restaurant, as a company, Darden Restaurants had been supporting the Harlem neighborhood over the past several years. We support organizations focused on the arts and education within Harlem, including the Harlem School of the Arts and The Studio Museum of Harlem. We partnered with many Harlem organizations, such as the Apollo Theater, Harlem Art Alliance, 125th Street Business Improvement District and the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce for input on artwork, music and how to best pay tribute to the community through our presence.
I am personally excited to be able to give back to the Harlem community on an ongoing basis through our Darden Harvest program. Like every other restaurant location in the Darden family, my team will continuously donate our unserved, surplus fresh food to local community food banks to help feed the hungry in the area. I am excited that those in need will be able to enjoy fresh fish, shrimp and other seafood, meats and vegetables that they might not be able to try as often.
I am honored to be a part of the Harlem community and to give back to the surrounding area. The opening of this restaurant has been an exciting time, and I owe a big "thank you" to my team of nearly 250 employees who are also from the surrounding areas.