Holy Cow Game Changer: Red Owl Tavern, Hotel Monaco Philadelphia and The Stratus Lounge

Lately on twitter I’ve been using Holy Cow to really get across notable moments, and extraordinary things of interest. The Red Owl Tavern, Stratus Lounge and Hotel Monaco Philadelphia fits that definition; separately or together it’s a big Holy Cow game changer for Philadelphia.

It’s hard to believe that it was only a year ago when I took this photo at the “groundbreaking” of the 
Hotel Monaco Philadelphia. (This is looking towards what is now the Red
Owl Tavern restaurant with it’s grand windows over looking Independence
Hall and the Liberty Bell) Jack Ferguson, President & CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PCVB), Nick Gregory, General Manager Hotel Monaco Philadelphia – Director of Operations at Kimpton Hotels (standing),  Kimpton’s President and COO, Niki Leondakis, The honorable Mayor Nutter and Meryl Levitz, CEO Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) 

Last night I attended one of the Friends and Family nights for Philly’s
latest and one of the most anticipated new restaurants, Red Owl Tavern, part of the
new Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco opening next week at 5th and Chestnut.  I can’t remember the last time a restaurant in a hotel was so highly anticipated with the exception of Eric Ripert’s 10 Arts at the Ritz Hotel with Chef Jen Carroll. (BTW Top Chef’s new reality show  “Life After Top Chef” debuts tonight on Bravo at 10PM. I’ll be in two episodes, the first one airs on October 17.)

What’s interesting about the Kimpton brand is the branding of their restaurants. They are stand alone, meaning they have an entrance that fronts the street welcoming guests through the front door without having to go through the lobby. Their other property in the City, Hotel Palomar Philadelphia also has a restaurant with a door on the street, Square 1682 17th and Sansom Streets. Another restaurant in the City that does very well, and with this concept is, which is part of the long term stay hotel AKA Rittenhouse.

Guillermo Tellez Cruz, executive chef Red Owl Tavern, and Stratus Lounge (he will continue to oversee Square 1682 too) last night prepping orders for the packed house.

 Michael DeGano, Director of Restaurant Operations at Kimpton Hotels., Chef Guillermo Tellez Cruz and Erik Travers, the Restaurant Operations Director of the Red Owl Tavern in the Hotel Monaco

Jack Reilly, Legend Properties, Natalie Pineda, General Manager of Red Owl Tavern and Diane Farina, Starr Restaurants

Jimmy Contreras, VlahosPR Sandy Foxx and Matt Vlahos, VlahosPR who does the PR for Red Owl Tavern and Stratus Lounge

Kimberly M. Ciesla and Robert N. Johnson, both of Anne Klein Communications Group.

Nikki Vlahos and Stevie Wagner

Dileimys Franco and Angela Giampolo (or as I like to call her, my lawyer.)

Kristen Foote and Nicole Cashman, Cashman & Assocs. Nicole does the PR for Hotel Monaco Philadelphia and Hotel Palomar.

Dinner was delicious. My friend Kristyn Aldrich and I shared a steak, a chicken pot pie (that was outta this world), the Red Owl Salad – hmm hmm good and a cherry pie that is the size of the ones you would get at More Than Just Ice Cream. Above is the fruit tart and a peanut butter chocolate whoopie.

Then we were whisked to the 11th floor and the Stratus Lounge. WOW I was so surprised at how amazing the space was. Lately all I kept hearing was negative nelly stuff like there’s no direct view of the skyline, but even with the fog and mist I could see the buildings. More importantly though it was outdoors, it was beautifully decorated with plenty of seating; it’s dope.

This is the bar area, which is under a roof with garage like doors with windows that close in inclement weather.

 The whole outdoor area is heated with heat lamps when necessary.

Kristyn standing in the future DJ area. There’s not a dance floor per se, but it’s a lounge and toe tapping is encouraged.

There are two enclosed pavilions at either end of Stratus Lounge, these used to be storage buildings for the historic Lafayette Building which is the Monaco Hotel, capacity for each is about 60 people, with windows that overlook Independence Mall, seating for about 30 in areas that are reminiscence of VIP bottle service, but there is no bottle service here, no minimum if you and friends are out for the evening.  It’s like getting VIP bottle service, but what is the normal service at a Kimpton property. They can also be rented out for private parties for a reasonable amount that includes a food and beverage amount. See John Christinzio, Lounge GM for more info.

Vapor – is the more sleek of the two pavilions, with it’s black and white decor, TV’s, many couches and a few tables;  It’s more intimate. I took the above shot with a flash, this is the room where you wanna listen to some Barry White with your boo.

Mist is bright and white. There’s a nice size community table running the length of the room, comfortable white chairs that might make your mother cringe if you drink red red wine in this room. The two windows have a great view of the Constitution Center, but no one’s gonna be looking out them except me, cause the action will be happening in the room. It’s the see and be seen room, it’s well lit.

Looking towards Vapor. There are conversation pits, a long couch and a 30 foot fireplace for those cozy nights with that special someone. The Stratus Lounge reeks of romance, as well as a great place to go with friends. There’s a lot of options on the roof top. It reminds me of Hop Sing Laundromat but outdoors. It’s a little bit off the beaten track, but it’s worth the trip.

In anticipating this property over the year I was wondering if it would attract locals or just remain a hotel property where guests are the predominately users of the restaurant and lounge. I’m here to tell you that this is going to be one hot property.  Red Owl Tavern has a diverse menu that will keep it’s hotel guests happy, as well as the locals. It’s eclectic like Square Peg, but still has standard fare that even little Mary would want to try. Stratus Lounge will be a destination point, where hotel guests, locals and people from the tri-state area will want to check out the scene, all year long and then tell there friends.

As I tweeted in the cab drive home last night:

Honestly the entire Hotel Monaco complex sets a new
standard for Philadelphia. It’s sophisticated, whimsical and delicious.

The hotel is gorgeous, the lobby reminds me of falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.

Here are a couple links to photos & stories by the Foodies of Philly on Red Owl Tavern and The Stratus Lounge.
Michael Klein
City Paper – Stratus Lounge Menu
Foobooz – Red Owl Tavern Menu

uwishunu – Monaco Hotel Philadelphia