Workshop Kitchen + Bar Becomes Palm Springs' 1st James Beard Award Winner for Design

Restaurant, SOMA Architects earn national acclaim

Lydia Kremer Restaurants 0 Comments


Chef/Owner Michael Beckman has seen the expressions on his customers’ faces change once they enter Workshop Kitchen + Bar in the Uptown Palm Springs Design District.

“The effects on our guests is jarring…in a positive way,” Beckman says. “They walk through a colonial courtyard expecting to find an interior that is Spanish. Once you walk in the door and are confronted with a 27-foot cathedral ceiling and soaring 17-foot monolithic concrete sleek booths, the effect is shocking.”

The rest of the world has taken notice, too.


photo by david a. lee

“They walk through a colonial courtyard expecting to find an interior that is Spanish," says chef/owner Michael Beckman.


The Palm Springs restaurant, located in the historic El Paseo Building on North Palm Canyon, has been recently become Palm Springs’ first James Beard award winner for Outstanding Restaurant Design in the category of over 75 seats.

“We are thrilled to be the only restaurant in Southern California to receive the 2015 James Beard Award,” said Beckman. “It’s great to be on the national radar. We’ll be working toward getting recognition for our food and beverage. And we hope it will create attention for our future projects.”

Because the restaurant is housed in a Palm Springs Class One Historic Building, no external revisions could be made. Designer Michel Abboud of SOMA Architects made sure the impact could be felt in the interior.


photo by david a. lee

Michael Beckman: "We also love the lively atmosphere and the energy of the community table…when the place is packed the way you feel on that table is absolutely unique."


“The simple insertion of poured in place cast concrete brutalist elements in the towering space afford an ecclesiastic aesthetic that is at the same time awe-inspiring and minimalist," says Abboud, principal and founder of SOMA Architects.

The brutalist movement in architecture flourished during the 1950s to the mid-1970s, derived from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. In this context, the term ”brutal” originates from the French béton brut, or "raw concrete," a term used by Le Corbusier for his preferred choice of material.

“We loved the depth, height and the drama of the space, so we just created a modernist insert,” Beckman explains. “The design process was a very collaborative effort in terms of concept; we gave SOMA a list of our professional requirements for seating, kitchen space, space for a pizza oven, prep areas, etc. and they designed it.”


photo by david a. lee

The bar area.


Beckman says the result elevated the dining experience for both the staff ands customers.

“We love the intimate experience that the booths provide,” Beckman says. “Between the lighting and the black leather and natural concrete backdrop, it makes people look good. We also love the lively atmosphere and the energy of the community table…when the place is packed the way you feel on that table is absolutely unique.”

Beckman and Workshop Kitchen + Bar co-owner Joseph Mourani joined Abboud at the 2015 James Beard Awards Gala & Reception on May 4 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago – the first time the awards presentation was held outside of New York City. The event was the 25th Anniversary of the black-tie gala. The evening began with red carpet arrivals before the awards, followed by a reception.


van root photography

Chef/owner Michael Beckman.


This is the first year that Workshop Kitchen + Bar was nominated and the first win for both the restaurant and the New York-based architectural design firm.

“We are honored that this project has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation and grateful to be acknowledged side-by-side with other great designers of dining experiences,” says Abboud. “While being sensitive and respectful of the client’s needs and the existing historical building, we crafted an elegant dining environment unlike any other in Palm Springs.”


Michel Abboud, principal and founder of SOMA Architects, is flanked by Workshop co-owners Joseph Mourani and Michael Beckman at the 2015 James Beard Awards Gala & Reception on May 4 in Chicago.


Lydia Kremer has worked in the architecture and design communities of Palm Springs for more than 10 years. As a publicist, she promoted Palm Springs Modernism Week for seven years since its inception, she served on the Architectural Design Council board for five years, and was a board trustee for the California Preservation Foundation for five years.


Like what you're reading? Then "Like" us on Facebook and "follow" us on Twitter.

Leave a Reply