A Wilmington native is returning home to open a “progressive” French brasserie in the space of the Hotel Du Pont’s iconic Green Room.
Tyler Akin, the restaurateur behind the hot Philadelphia favorites Stock and Res Ipsa Café will be “chef-partner” of the new eatery, which promises contemporary brasserie-inspired cuisine and will be open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The restaurant, which is yet unnamed, will begin renovations in the Green Room space right after the new year. The opening is slated for sometime in late spring. Akin is already hard at work on his biggest restaurant project yet and says, “It’s been a really meaningful thing for me to try to do this justice.”
Akin told TSD that he “couldn’t say no” to the opportunity to launch a new restaurant in the fabled hotel, the same building where his grandfather – a chemist for the DuPont Company – worked for years. Akin, a 2002 graduate of Tower Hill School says his team plans to “re-imagine this legendary restaurant” as a “lively French restaurant.”
The new restaurant will be designed by Philadelphia’s Stokes Architecture & Design, whose work includes Parc, WM Mulherin’s Sons/Hiroki, Suraya, and Pizzeria Beddia. The layout will include 125 seats with an intimate 14 seat bar, a private dining room and seasonal outdoor patio seating on Rodney Square.
Akin grew up frequenting the Green Room on special occasions and said his earliest food memories were formed then. Now as its new head chef, he looks forward to putting his own mark on the historic restaurant. “I feel like I’ve been able to flex my muscles a little bit on this project. So it’s been really rewarding on an intellectual level besides the creative level.”
Akin, who spent a year at Widener Law School before pursuing culinary school in Washington, DC, worked at Minibar by José Andrés and cooked at the Michelin-starred Komi, also in Washington. In 2012, Akin relocated to Philadelphia to accept a position at globally-acclaimed Zahav under multi-James Beard Foundation award-winning chef and restaurateur, Michael Solomonov.
Aiming to bring a sense of ‘elegance, earnestness and gracefulness’ from the staff, Akin revealed he was not the only chef considered to lead the new restaurant. “Ultimately, I think the strength of what I proposed to [the owners] as a vision for this restaurant caused them to select me.”
The restaurant’s cuisine will “pull influences from Provençe and North Africa,” according to a press release from Buccini/Pollin Group’s PM Hotel Group that owns the hotel.
The menus will “showcase innovative riffs on French classics, from steak frites with bone marrow salsa verde to bouillabaisse with scallops, octopus, monkfish and head-on shrimp with handmade Moroccan couscous, alongside ever-evolving seasonal offerings that showcase the vibrancy of Delaware foodways.”
Akin said diners looking for everything from a hamburger to a special occasion would find the new eatery an inviting spot.
Entrées will include swordfish à la Grecque, roasted heritage chickens, gnocchi Parisienne with jumbo lump crab, and large-format options like the rougette de veau, a red wine-braised cut of veal shoulder glazed and served with roasted maitake mushrooms. Locally roasted coffees, natural wines and craft cocktails will also be on tap.
Hotel Du Pont purists will be pleased to know the Green Room’s famed almond macaroons will still be available as well as high tea service three days a week
Director of Design, Lance Saunders, said the dining room’s fumed oak paneling, ornate plaster ceiling, gilded chandeliers and wall sconces will remain intact, with the addition of oak- framed stained glass window screens.
Dave Pollin, co-founder and president of The Buccini/Pollin Group and chairman of PM Hotel Group said extensive community engagement and listening has gone into the decision to launch the new restaurant. “Every decision is a direct result of extensive conversations with the community, frequent Green Room diners and our super talented culinary team. Our job is to allow the Green Room to continue evolving, as it always has, into something reflective of the community’s sophistication and today’s dining preferences. Everything we do starts with showing reverence to the celebrated history of the Green Room.”
Buccini/Pollin Group is partnering with Christina River Exchange, LLC, a full- service FF&E procurement company based in Wilmington, Delaware that serves the hospitality industry nationwide.
With evolving tastes in dining and a growing number of people interested in more upscale casual offerings, Akin says he knows the new restaurant will have to be special to appeal to busy, budget-conscious diners every day of the week.
The chef says they’ll ensure a variety of price points — “we will certainly be a notch below the current economics of that restaurant” — and they will offer collaborative event and dining programming with nearby institutions. “Approachability is really the guiding light here. I think it’s going to be just the undeniable experience which I think will be very welcoming and approachable to people,” he said. “I think we’ll be providing service that is elevated to an extent that it’s not going to be an injustice to the legacy of The Green Room.”