After a particularly intense meeting dragged on too late to let me get to John's baseball pictures yesterday, I decided I may as well stay put in the city and headed to the Grand Opening Party at the all-new Valanni.
The party was a lot of fun, with lost of small food to nosh on, flowing wine and free drinks from the kind folks at Jose Cuervo and Jason at PINK Vodka. Everyone was there from regulars like me to Kinky Jen, DJ Jon Gill and a million people I have never seen in the place. It was wild. The GF and I enjoyed the evening. Free booze is NEVER a bad thing.
Regular readers will know that Valanni is the spot I hang out at in the city when I don't have kids to care for or games to attend. It's always been a fun spot with excellent food. Last Fall, owner George Anni leased the space next to the 40 seat restaurant and began renovations to double the size of the restaurant and bar.
The renovations are complete, the new beer taps are flowing and the menu has been re-done. There's a party room in the back and 2 more bathrooms and you can't turn around without running into a new staff member. The matte black, faux-gator flooring is chic, the brushed aluminum chairs are beautiful (but rough on the back), and the decor is Stephen Starr like.
Change is rough on regulars of bars and restaurants. We come there because we lie the place the way it is, we're not looking for anything new. But Valanni had gotten a little shabby and it was time for renovations. The size was a problem too, with the bar crammed at happy hour and no place to host a group gathering. Anni saw that he had to adapt or die and like most restaurant owners, he saw bigger as better.
I love with the physical changes. I am sure Chef will make the new menu zing. The new staff will take a bit of getting used to. Long-time bartender Laurentiu Muras has moved on to open his own place over near Rittenhouse. Alex is headed back behind the bar. Staff turnover always happens as spring turns to summer.
All in all, it's still a great place for a meal, but we'll have to see how comfortable the bar is after the newness wears off.