Talking shop with executive chef Andrew Wilson, hotelier Jon Kully and boutique owner Andie Kully.
Executive Chef Andrew WilsonAfter celebrated turns cooking in Charleston, Chicago and Northern California, the chef landed at Emporium Kitchen + Wine Market — and Savannah is happy to have him.
Emily Testa: I feel like I’ve been here before, in the best way.
Andrew Wilson: Then we’ve done a good job harkening back! We looked to the classic brasseries of France: tile to the ceiling, different floorings, light fixtures and the overall feel. It’s not a cookie-cutter reproduction, though. More like a wink and a nod.
How did you adapt the bistro concept to suit Savannah?
Basically, we interpret and we lighten. The service is modern American service, far more casual than a classic French restaurant — still precise and accurate, but approachable, not haughty in any way. Open kitchens also promote that. I’m right there, and people can talk to me and engage.
When I came in for dinner last week I witnessed you cheerfully giving out the recipe for your buttermilk dressing to a guest who complimented it.
I started giving away recipes ten years ago. It helps to spread the hospitality and the warmth. People will remember that, and they’ll come back.
I’m sure you hear this every day, but Emporium doesn’t feel like a hotel restaurant.
As a company, Sage Restaurant Group works very hard to not have that happen. SRG opens independent restaurants that happen to be adjacent to cool hotels.
Well it’s working, because every time I’ve visited, the room is half locals.
I could not be more thrilled with the breakdown. I’d say on any given night, 80-plus percent of the guests at the restaurant are local, or not necessarily staying at Perry Lane. We’re getting a huge amount of local folks, and we’re seeing repeat visits every week, which is great.
The market situation is so unique in that it creates an entirely different reason to swing by Emporium. You could hit the deli, the gelato stand and the wine shop and pick up everything you need to make dinner at home.
Yes! If you enjoyed the artisan cheese board, you can buy those cheeses by the pound, or take home a Mason jar of the fruit mostarda that we make in-house. The idea was to create a community gathering place.
The nightly suppers are another cozy touch. What’s your favorite?
Definitely the Coquille St.-Jacques. Nobody does it anymore, so we went with the absolutely classic preparation. We sell out every week.
The people want to know: what do you cook for yourself, at home?
Chefs eat late, so my go-to meal is any leftovers with a fried egg on top. But my last meal on earth would be childhood food. If I could have my grandmother’s pot roast one more time, with her chocolate cake, I’d be happy.
So nostalgic! That’s part of what makes you and Emporium such a good fit for Savannah.
AW: Everyone here is very gracious. They like to go out in groups and socialize, and they care about the people they’re spending time with, maybe even more than the food they’re eating. Food is love, and I get that feeling when I’m looking out at a full dining room at Emporium.
Developer Jon Kully of Flank DevelopmentHe spent five years bringing Perry Lane to fruition. Now he's a champion of the city's past, present and future.
Emily Testa: As you developed this project, how were you inspired by Savannah itself?
Jon Kully: Perry Lane Hotel is in and of Savannah, so it was very much our goal to make the property feel comfortable by showcasing the understated elegance evident throughout the city. The design is very layered, and it unfolds like a good story. Savannah is famous for its history and city plan, but what I find most fascinating about Savannah is the people — the worldly port city feel and the presence of Savannah College of Art and Design make for a very eclectic and interesting mix of artists, writers, actors, scholars, rabble-rousers and travellers. It’s not what you might expect from a quintessentially Southern town.
Was your design concept steered by any particular point of reference?
During the design process, we spent a lot of time studying Savannah and the Lowcountry, and we also got very introspective about why we travel. I think we all travel to expand our horizons. Being immersed in a different place forces us to observe and learn, to grow and to change. To invite that exploration, Perry Lane Hotel is a study in contrasts — worldly and local, historic but fresh, full of unexpected moments that create wonder and delight.
There’s such a collected feel, particularly in the lobby area.
The open lobby concept is a nod to the parlors of some of the great manor homes of the South. There is a true sense of arrival, not pretentious, but warm and familiar. The overall concept is very residential, and we hope that awakens a sense of belonging, even for first-time visitors to Savannah.
The guest suites are so special too! I’m moving in.
The rooms were purposefully designed to have a texture you don’t find in many properties. That combination of rich paint colors, feminine furniture accents and unique artwork and collectables bring the hotel’s personality to life. A collection of found objects, curated over a number of years from local and regional antique stores and markets, gives the hotel and each room a real sense of place.
You did a fabulous job of celebrating Savannah’s community of artists.
The art collection — with work by Marcus Kenney, Katherine Sandoz and Kyle Millsap, to name just a few — is elevated yet playful and at times a little rebellious. We hope that alongside heirlooms and travel mementos, the contemporary artwork imbues the hotel with the sense of a fully lived life, not unlike the lives of our guests. Overall, the hotel is a culmination point of Southern culture, hospitality and style.
Speaking of style — what constitutes good style to you?
I’m an architect by training, so I’m hyper visual. I’m also of the opinion that nothing is ever new, so I favor a classic look. Ultimately, good style is being comfortable in what you’re wearing and wearing it with confidence. Whether it’s a great linen suit or a well-worn pair of jeans, as long as it’s an expression of you, you’ve got style.
Designer Andie KullyHer namesake resort wear boutique at Perry Lane brings her past lives in luxury retail and interiors full circle. And boy, is it beautiful.
Emily Testa: This store seems like the perfect confluence of your creative modes.
Andie Kully: I wanted the environment to complement the clothing, not compete with it, and at the same time have a personality of its own. The very high ceilings presented the perfect place to do something special and eye-catching. I collaborated with the talented Katherine Sandoz to create the floral mural that has become the hallmark of the space — a painterly celebration of local magnolia blooms.
How did you take the larger context of the hotel into consideration as you were designing your store?
The boutique relates to the hotel in that they share an attention to detail and have a strong point of view. However, the boutique’s interiors and product selection deviates from Perry Lane Hotel in its distinctly feminine sensibility.
What inspired the store’s lovely mix of clothes, accessories and objects?
When I first moved to New York City after college, there was this great Japanese department store, Takashimaya, on 5th Avenue. The rooms were richly decorated and beautifully merchandised, a little bit of everything, all thoughtfully selected. While the aesthetic of the store was quite different than mine, I was inspired by the highly edited collection of designers and how each object seemed so precious. I hope to convey this same feeling in the boutique.
Describe your aesthetic.
I’d say updated classic with a modern, feminine edge. I love color, prints, accessorizing and layering jewelry, and I love to be “dressed,” which stands in stark opposition to the current athleisure trend.
Resortwear has such a connection to travel, and a fun dress or necklace makes a great souvenir.
How wonderful to be flooded with memories every time you pull a bracelet out of your jewelry box. I have a striking woven-silver clutch that I purchased at a hotel boutique while in Thailand on my honeymoon. Every time I use it or even pause to admire it in my closet, it conjures happy memories. The experience lives on via the memento.
What are a few vacation staples that always get space in your suitcase?
The contents of my suitcase vary based on destination, but typically I bring dresses for dinners, sunglasses, a sweater for air-conditioned climates, a great book and Rummikub. One thing is for sure: I always leave room to bring home new purchases!
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Savannah loves a resort look, so we’re delighted to have you here.
I’m so grateful to have been so warmly welcomed by Savannah. I hope that Perry Lane Hotel draws people to Savannah who’ve yet to experience its beauty and history, and that the city continues to grow in its own way.