A Restaurant in Greenwich Village Serving Plates Full of Happy

The latest from Acme’s Jon Neidich and bartender Jim Kearns.

The Happiest Hour, a new restaurant and bar from Acme’s Jon Neidich and bartender Jim Kearns (the latter formerly of the Pegu Club and the NoMad), looks back to the midcentury resorts of California and Florida. Designed by Neidich and Australian restaurateur Nick Mathers, the space lends a distinctive flair to New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. “I became enchanted by the resorts of the 1950s, old wood boats, ad definitely some Dirty Dancing,” Neidich says.

The space, previously occupied by the restaurant Kingswood, was redesigned to break up the rectangular-shaped room. A strategically placed half well separates the horseshoe-shaped bar from the dining room; wood-framed windows complete the wall the rest of the way up. “This element, which was Nick’s idea, is really the key to the space,” Neidich says. “It allows the bar to be full and boisterous, yet the dining area still feels separated and very much protected.” The bar features a Carrara marble top, a wood bull nose, and a bendable ply front. The space fits 15 seats and has ample standing room for other bar-goers.

The dining area, which seats an additional 55 guests, features velour banquets characteristics of decades-old country clubs and sunbrella seating that lends an indoor/outdoor vibe. Anchoring the dining room is a large midcentury armoire. The lower perimeter of the space is reminiscent to bamboo, brought out by wooden dowels that have been cut and stained. “For the rest of the wood, we used pine, which is great because the gran shows through the paint and feels like it’s been there forever,” Neidich says. Tying the room together is palm tree wallpaper lining the periphery above the bamboo-like panels.

The retro feel especially comes through on the back wall, which is adorned with knick-knacks and souvenirs that include seashells, cigar boxes, bottles, a model boat, and an alligator head. Perimeter lighting alludes to late sunny afternoons spent lying on the beach; amber bulbs create a warm glow and comfortable feel. Additional lighting comes from hanging spherical lamps that emit a rosy glow, making the space feel as balmy—in a good way—as the resorts of yore it seeks to emulate.

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