Restaurants Reboot at Reality-Show Speed


Last Saturday afternoon at the Cooper Square Hotel on the Bowery, some 60 staffers sat down for a marathon tasting orchestrated by the chef Scott Conant, who will soon open a new restaurant called Faustina there. Amid the aroma of fresh paint, the whine of a circular saw, and the sight of artisans applying silver gilt to various surfaces, Faustina’s waiters and dishwashers sampled olive-oil-poached sardines, veal porterhouse steaks and tajarin pasta with tomato and sea urchin (which Mr. Conant described as “sex in a bowl”).

“I feel like I’m a contestant on my own Food Network show,” Mr. Conant said, referring to “24 Hour Restaurant Battle,” a new program he hosts that allots competitors precisely one day to whip up a new restaurant, from concept to menu to décor.

This is the era of high-velocity restaurant makeovers, where noteworthy establishments are born, or reborn, in the time it takes to make a batch of crostini. In September, Ed’s Chowder House rose from the ashes of a steakhouse, Center Cut, which had closed less than a month earlier. In San Francisco, the Australian chef Luke Mangan’s restaurant, South, closed shop on Dec. 19 and will reopen in February — minus Mr. Mangan — as Marlowe, a “friendly neighborhood” bistro. Meanwhile, a Guinness record nomination is in order for the Tasting Kitchen in Venice, Calif., which managed to open all of six days after taking over from the A. K. Restaurant Bar + Grill last summer.

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