Modern Make-Under

Workshop Kitchen + Bar,

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Workshop Kitchen + Bar, which moved into the historic El Paseo Building on North Palm Canyon Drive and Tamarisk Road last year, has won a 2013 Restaurant and Bar Design Award. Of 667 entries, the Uptown Palm Springs establishment was named one of the top two spots in the United States, and 29 in the world.

Most recently a Design Within Reach store, the 1926 Spanish Colonial-style space — which boasts 3,700 square feet and 27-foot-high ceilings, with beautiful bones — was also the town’s first movie theater and the city council chambers in the 1940s.

When contemplating the design for his new restaurant, Workshop owner and chef Michael Beckman sought to honor the building’s colonial roots while creating a modernist insert. “We accomplished this through free-standing, cast-in-place concrete structures that accentuate the space’s height and long, narrow shape,” he says. “We also tried to follow the cadence of the original windows near the top of the walls, as well as the rhythm of the original wood trusses and beams.”

Design house SOMA created the “industrial chic” aesthetic, juxtaposing modern accents with old structures, mixing warm, raw materials with clean lines and stark colors. “The walls — concrete masonry units that were common in Palm Springs’ construction in the 1920s and ’30s — are original,” Beckman says. A 32-foot-long communal table stretches through the center of the restaurant, surrounded by booths that allow for more intimate dining. The area is flanked by a family table in a sunlit room at one end, and a cozy bar at the other.

“We kept the language simple, featuring concrete, black steel, and black leather,” Beckman says. “The floors are roughed-up white epoxy.  Hundreds of Edison bulbs —along with the people — add warmth to the space.”

A patio in the courtyard for al fresco dining accommodates 40 — the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or meal in autumn.

Try the Lautner Project cocktail, made with Rhum Agricole, house-made agave cordial, fresh lime juice, mint, and sparkling wine, and the Octopus Carpaccio, cooked sous vide and garnished with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, Fleur de Sel, Espelette and roasted.

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