Downtown Birmingham’s 220 restaurant, which was purchased last month by businesswoman and attorney Denise Ilitch, should be ready to re-open in June after an interior renovation that “will add many modern amenities while respecting its historical components,” she said today.
Her partner in the project is Zaid Elia of the Elia Group, a real estate development and management company whose properties include more than 100 Subway locations. Ilitch is the daughter of Little Caesar’s Pizza founders Mike and Marian Ilitch.
Their new restaurant will still be called 220, Ilitch said, and “all the original oak walls and beautiful crown molding will be retained.” But the project also will introduce modern amenities including Wi-Fi and electronic charging facilities in the dining room and bar and create “a more contemporary version of the restaurant,” she said.
“It won’t have a tavern feel. It will be more contemporary in nature with a lot more light, while respecting the dark woods,” she added.
Chef Luis Reyes, who was at 220 for at least 17 years, will return as chef of the new 220. The menu will be contemporary American, she said, but it will keep a half-dozen or so of the old 220’s most popular dishes, including spicy penne and risotto balls.
The design and renovations are being handled by Chicago architect and restaurant designer Mark Knauer in partnership with Birmingham architect Christopher Longe. Besides designing several Ralph Lauren cafés, Knauer is also the stylistic mind behind Ocean Prime and Cameron Mitchell restaurants, Ilitch said.
Ilitch — founder and owner of Denise Ilitch Designs, a jewelry and clothing design firm based in Birmingham — plans to relocate her offices to the building’s upper floor, she said. The multistory brick building at 220 Merrill, near Pierce, was built in 1932 and is known as the “old Detroit Edison building.”