When Fox Associates asked us to help bring St. Louis’ first champagne bar to life right next door to one of the most beautiful theatres in the world, we couldn’t help but give them an extra-long standing ovation. Classy drinks and world-class entertainment? Sign us up!
If you think about it, champagne dreams are perfect for the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Midtown St. Louis. With its Siamese-Byzantine splendor offering luxury and joy from every direction, the Fox already is at the pinnacle of opulence; enjoying a glass of bubbly and a few tasty small plates in a similarly lavish setting before or after a show can only enhance a theatre patron’s feeling of grandeur.
But first thing’s first: transforming the adjacent dusty storage space into a lounge fit for royalty would require some serious audience participation. At the start of the project, Fox Associates partners Mary Strauss, Lisa Baudendistel-Suntrup and Julie Baudendistel-Noonan told us that they envisioned Curtain Call’s decor and architecture echoing the neighboring Fox Theatre without directly replicating it. We needed to build something unique, something St. Louis hadn’t yet seen. They also wanted plenty of flexible seating for guests and special events, a small stage for live entertainment and a big, gorgeous bar. In addition, the entire project had to be completed within just a few months. Our sister company, Space Constructors, was ready to bring the design to life. Challenge accepted!
As we cleared out the space that was to become Curtain Call, we realized that we had some pretty great architectural bones to work with: wonderfully high ceilings, pieces of gorgeous moldings, and beautiful natural light streaming in from the windows at the front. We used this to our advantage as we designed a palatial lounge inspired by the famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub in 1920s Los Angeles and Rick’s Café Casablanca, the Moroccan bar that pays tribute to the Bogart/Bergman film “Casablanca.” From keyhole-arched doorways to gilded ceiling accents, the exotic, revitalized space now makes us want to purr, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
Throughout the design process, we used renderings to show Mary, Lisa and Julie the reimagined space. As we updated lighting, carpet and paint colors, we could quickly tweak the rendering to show how these changes would affect the look of the space. Paul was a whiz during meetings, and he could instantly change the carpet or wallcovering so the Fox team would be confident with their choices.
We redesigned the layout of the space to accommodate both regular guests and private events, making sure to hit visitors with stunning opulence as soon as they walk through the door. Large porcelain square tiles were custom cut into curvy, arabesque-style masterpieces that echoed Moroccan patterns found both in Curtain Call and in the Fox, and we placed them on the floor at the entrance to welcome guests into luxury. We also custom built massive golden palm trees to draw immediate attention to the space’s high ceilings and gilded features throughout.
In the dining area, we covered the floor with a custom hospitality broadloom that beautifully picks up the warm colors from the carpet within the Fox. Dark tables are set off by golden Chiavari chairs and palm trees (that were built in our studio!), while vintage posters line the walls, adding pops of color throughout the space. And let’s talk about those walls, shall we? As we laid out the new space, we erected new drywall and covered it with a thin wood veneer that we then stained a rich black. We’re not going to lie: we’re pretty proud of the trim work we did here, which frames and highlights the art-lit posters perfectly.
But people will come to Curtain Call to imbibe, not just to admire art, right? That meant that we needed a stunningly gorgeous bar where a drinkable adventure could lead to romance — or at least a tale worthy of the theatre. We built a massive bar covered in a marron cohiba granite, onto which we placed handmade Moroccan-style lanterns that handsomely reflect the bar’s bits of gold. The backbar area features the keyhole arches found elsewhere throughout the space, and the back surface is a dazzling mercury glass mirror. Nearby, curvy banquette seating snuggles up to the huge windows facing Grand Boulevard — perfect for people watching or being seen by an agent. Look up, and you’ll see a gorgeous antique chandelier that echos the space’s Moroccan influences. St. Louis Antique Lighting restored this beauty to glory, while our friends at Fox Associates selected just the right fringe.
On the north side of Curtain Call, we built a small elevated stage that houses additional dining tables when not being used by performers. Above, gently arcing fabric connects the bar and dining areas, but you’d never know that this also houses a secret. The ceiling had been covered in unattractive pipes that we couldn’t remove, so we painted both those and the ceiling black to help disguise them. We then draped the beautiful blue and gold fabric over and around them and added a few dimmable string lights. It all makes for a rather romantic nook.
Rounding out the exotic ambiance of the entire space is a beautiful, whimsical blue ceiling edged with gold moulding and punctuated by large Italian gold-fiber chandeliers that keep drawing the eye up, up, up.
In the end, we turned a forgotten storage space into a glamorous journey to Morocco, and all within just a few short months. With Curtain Call now serving the finest champagnes, wines, craft beers on tap and cocktails with a side of “Wicked,” St. Louis has deepened its reputation as a destination for fine beverages as well as fine entertainment. We’ll drink to that!
Curtain Call Lounge at the Fox Theatre
521 North Grand
St. Louis, MO 63103
Photos by Matt Marcinkowski