BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar in neighboring Highland Village has had a lot going on the last month.
Since August 28th, this classic Jackson restaurant has been temporarily closed while it underwent a transformation.
With the renovation complete, BRAVO! has reopened with a private grand unveiling celebration.
The need for a complete remodel came as BRAVO!’s structural foundation began a “parting of the ways.”
“A support beam under the pizza oven was giving out,” says Dan Blumenthal, Chef and co-owner. “[Jeff and I] knew something would have to be done. But we didn’t know how or with what money.”
When the new ownership of Highland Village approached Blumenthal and co-owner, Jeff Good, to work out a plan to fix the foundation that would require the restaurant to close for a month, the two knew they had to make the most of it.
“It became clear we would have to close for an extended period, so we knew we would definitely remodel our kitchen. We had been talking about it for years,” Good says.
The business partners decided to up the ante. “We knew we couldn’t be closed for a month and disrupt our guests’ experience without giving them something. It was clear that we needed to overhaul the dining room too,” says Good.
That’s where architectural firm CDFL and Erik Kegler and Brennan Hovell of Erik Kegler Interiors and owners of EK Home came in.
“[I’m] not going to beat around the bush: we had no money; it was all going into the foundation and the kitchen, but we wanted to do something incredible with the dining room,” Good shared. “We had been saving money for two years in preparation for the work, but we were still short. So, we came up with an ingenious plan to raise the funds, a celebratory event called ‘The Closer,’ and auctioned off all our furniture and fixtures.”
With all the plans and budgets and designs set, there was still one concern left to address: the BRAVO! team.
“We decided to pay them [for the month out of work] — which is pretty much unheard of, but it really worked out because we needed a construction crew to make the front house remodel happen,” Good explained. “They were our crew, ripping out sheetrock, laying floors, putting in ceiling tiles, sanding, scraping and painting. And, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me to unplug and spend a full month of my life focused on one thing – one project – and do it with people I have nothing but the utmost in respect for.”
Kegler was impressed too. “To take an untrained crew and in a month, get them to these results is stunning,” he said. “We have very high expectations for the quality of work that goes into our designs and they met them.”
Walk into BRAVO! today and the demi wall facing the front door is gone, creating a more inviting entrance while enlarging the bar and lounge. The iconic Lynn Green Root mural is still there, but gone are the old white ceiling tiles and green 90s paint and upholstery. Everything has been softened to soothing, modern shades of blues, greys, and tans creating a crisp yet calm atmosphere. Music plays over an updated sound system- no tinny tunes anymore. And the lighting has had a complete overhaul with stunning, starburst-like light fixtures and gold and white lanterns. New artwork adorns the walls and even the bathroom doors have had the royal treatment with bold new graphics.
Some of the biggest improvements cannot be seen. Behind the bar hides a sleek cruvinet, allowing BRAVO! sommelier, Lesley McHardy, to feature a rotating selection of high-end wines by the glass without any fear of oxidation. And the kitchen has undergone a massive improvement. The remodel not only fixed the foundation but allowed the BRAVO! team to create a whole new, more efficient layout, leveling floors, updating management offices and replacing and refurbishing equipment.
Along with the new interior, BRAVO! also updated their menu, restyling it to match their more contemporary look.
“Don’t worry, most of your favorites are still here,” explains Susan Farris, Marketing Manager. “We did cut a few items to make room for a couple exciting new additions: a new ribeye steak – and some great new appetizers. A few things have been renamed to reflect their classic Italian roots but it is 80 percent the same.”
Check out another BRAVO! addition: their updated website at bravobuzz.com.