Philippe's Pre-Opening - Chinese Food for the Diverse Urban Crowd
Where can a NYPD officer, polished NY restaurateurs, a Spice Girl, a vegetarian, a San Luis Obispo Rapper and other musicians, the occasional athlete, and let’s not forget the 6’ tall models, actors, dancers (and throw in Bobbie Brown for good measure) go for a great consistent meal and high energy vibe? On this past Thursday, after a much anticipated opening (originally slated for September), Philippe's (fna Philippe Chows at a different location) opened with this diverse definitely urban high energy crowd mingling and enjoying staples of the Philippe Chow brand which originated in New York. In attendance included: Mel B and her husband, Jonathan Cheban - publicist extraordinaire, Karrueche Tran, Kevin Hart, the Game, Safaree Samuels, Jay Ellis, Nelly, Keyshia Cole, and Duane Martin along with a host of associated agents, business partners and other invited guests.
Steve Boxer, part of the investment team of Telly Hatzigeorgiou and Abraham Merchant of Merchants Hospitality, said the restaurant brand is prime for “athletes, politicians, and entertainers.” With seating capacity of 150, Philippe’s caters to this crowd with its side entrance to the VIP back room and divided dining areas - for those who want to be seen while not being seen. The separate dining areas are adorned with flat screen TVs for those known to come out with their group of friends and / or entourage.
A couple of invited attendees thought the night started slow but around 8pm it was wall to wall standing room only where people overflowed to the outdoor area in front, the atrium and even the sidewalk on occasion. Current and urban music was played by hip DJ, DJ LaLa Land, who stood up to her name by offering the hippest cuts to compliment the beautiful, high octane crowd.
Philippe Chow’s expansion goal includes major markets like Las Vegas and London. Mr. Merchant of Merchants Hospitality has been going to Philippe Chow in New York for the past 8 years says that they got involved because “it’s a great brand, and the food is addictive.”
While the draw was to see the new space, many came out to support their friend, Manny Halley, owner of Philippe's. Daniel and Christine Charlier, friends of Manny and Yolanda’s, said that it was “an unbelievable first class event from start to finish. The food was absolutely incredible from appetizers to dessert. Everyone associated with this fantastic restaurant helped to create an outstanding ambiance.”
Diane Warren, a vegetarian, left the Weinstein party to support Manny. While her passion is music (and we can all vouch for that) and a love for animals, she came to a meat centric restaurant for the “free food”. From that, we can surmise that her support of Manny is overwhelming. And we can understand why.
Manny, the owner who has been in this business for the past four years, dressed immaculately in black to compliment his cool vibe, with a great smile and intense eyes that could probably burn through your soul if you did not do something right. On this night, he talked about the service and the great food, but it’s really about the vibe that he has created that the service caters to and it is that vibe that brings people consistently to visit this brand.
For those not fortunate to get a coveted seated dining experience, passed hors d’ eouvres did not make it past the kitchen as hungry attendees pounced upon the waiters for a taste of what many vouched as being some of the best chicken satay, garlic shrimp and vegetarian egg rolls they had ever had.
It was a great vibe - for the most part - including the open air atrium in the middle that appeals to the LA alfresco dining vibe. What was not as cool of a vibe was the one bathroom for women. The bathroom is big enough to accommodate the ‘what I call’ the “bathroom party”. The bathroom party is where everyone congregates to check hair, lipstick or adjust cleavage and so on. The purpose of the bathroom party also is to discuss who saw who, the date(s) you are with, the woman with the red shoes, the woman eyeing your man and the list goes on so the size of this one room is perfect for the bathroom party.
What to expect when you go? Lissa Miller (with two s's) who stated she was a consultant for Philippe Chow’s said what people can expect is “the atmosphere, separate rooms, diversity, customer service, and great food.”
Jay Ellis, an actor on The Game, and frequent visitor to the New York location said that this location “did not lower its standards.” Ellis said he comes for the “atmosphere, [the] chicken [that] falls off the skewers.” He seemed really excited about the place as I am sure many on this over-packed opening night were.
If anything like the opening - anticipate a celebrity infested experience. However, if you live in Los Angeles you may be immune to it already. Service - can’t vouch for it as opening night still had some kinks to work out. But for a cool vibe, great bar options and celebrity viewing you may want to venture to 8620 Wilshire Boulevard. They are open for lunch and dinner. Make reservations first. Someone said it was loud and colorful. This may continue to be a ‘go to’ loud and colorful place for the grown, sexy and hip crowd that like to mingle with the celebrity/athlete crowd in a cool vibe setting. That’s Philippe Chow’s brand and they are sticking with it.