Primo Grill, since 1999.
"A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know, it has to constantly move forward or it dies."
That's a line spoken by Woody Allen in "Annie Hall," the cinematic epitome of '70s urban-chic love.
Bitten by a Seattle food scribe's comments on their decor, the owners of Primo Grill are now moving forward on an interior makeover that will give their 8-year-old restaurant new visual life.
Primo serves solid Italian-inspired food.
With its bright Tuscan tones, exposed ductwork, Jetsons menu font and kitschy artwork, Primo is the epitome of '90s urban-chic décor.
Here's a paraphrase of what Primo Grill owners said:
"Primo will be 9 years old this October," co-owner Jacqueline Plattner said. "We feel obliged to our customers to keep the place looking fresh and we think to do so is an industry standard."
Karen McClain, the Puyallup visual designer who orchestrated and executed Primo Grill's original interior, will do the facelift.
"It's important to stay current," said McClain, a card-carrying member of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America. "That's what great design is all about."
McClain plans to build on the bones of her earlier work. Some things will stay.
"All the wavy, abstract metal pieces that George Capestany created for the ceiling, the eggplant purple on the ceiling -- it's still a hot, trendy color. When we did it in 1999, it was out there."
Some will change – particularly the Tuscan yellow she used as a faux base on the walls, in keeping with the hand-painted Tuscan tiles that chef/co-owner Charlie McManus hand-picked for his open kitchen and bar.
"We want to play down that mustard yellow," McClain said. "If anything, that's the dated color. We want to give textures, give glow and change the ambiance of the lighting on that color."
McClain said she'll augment her original Tuscan mustard with metallic copper and mahagony overglaze accents. Two-foot-by-two-foot panels of distressed metal will lay over the current green wainscoating.
"It completely changes the color of Primo Grill," McClain said. "It will give a different dynamic to the art shows that hang inside the restaurant. But it still works wonderfully with the hand-decorated tables that the Tacoma Community College students created for the restaurant."
Except for Memorial Day, Primo Grill will remain open for business during the 8-day makeover. You've heard of an open kitchen? Primo Grill is going to be an open studio for a week.
Starting May 19, McClain and her crew will do their work late at night. They'll work section by section throughout the restaurant. Primo Grill's crew will move and re-set tables every evening and every morning.
"Customers can watch the evolution of the fabulous rehab of Primo Grill," McClain said.
McClain said she'll be finished by the time Primo Grill opens for lunch May 27.