The renovations started Nov. 1, and – for the most part – wrapped up about three weeks ago. Since then, finishing touches have been made, and Morton’s held a preview party Thursday night to unveil the renovated interior.
Taalib Hasen, the restaurant’s general manager, likened the restaurant’s former theme to that of a country club, and said the makeover was Morton’s way of aesthetically stepping into the 21st century.
The wood and brass that previously characterized the inside of the restaurant have been replaced with dark leather and silver, and the beige walls and carpet that blanketed the interior are now almost entirely black. The new look certainly goes against the typical saloon-style appearance of less-luxurious brands such as Texas Roadhouse or LongHorn Steakhouse.
Morton’s, which is owned by Landry’s Inc., is an international chain of steakhouse restaurants, and all 75 restaurants are slated for similar-style makeovers.
The Morton’s in uptown is on the first floor of the Carillon Tower on West Trade Street, and has been there for more than 20 years. Hasen said the space had undergone a face-lift only once before.
Hasen said the three biggest changes were a new, all-glass vestibule, which used to be completely closed in by wooden walls, an overhauled dining area, and renovated barroom.
Most of the furniture in the dining area was replaced, including all of the booths, and three new booths were added. Hasen said the restaurant bought new water glasses and silverware as well, including the most important eating utensil at a steakhouse: steak knives. The additional booths resulted in the loss of a couple of tables, but Hasen said he wasn’t worried about not having enough seating.
“We had an abundance of seating. I prefer to have more booth seating rather than just an abundance of seating,” he said.
Also new is the dining room’s all-glass wine wall, which used to be made of brick. Not only is each bottle of wine now completely visible – as opposed to only the tops of the bottles – but the new wall holds about 400 bottles, up from the old wall’s 250-bottle capacity.
Also previously brick, the face of the dining room walls on the outside of the open kitchen are now spotted with white tiles, which contrast with the room’s dimly lit, black-laden interior.
The barroom had previously been closed off from the dining area, but the wall opposite the bar now has several doorways so customers can seamlessly move through the entire bottom floor of the restaurant.
The wooden bar-top has been replaced by granite, and the old liquor shelf has been replaced by a custom-made, steel shelf with a TV mounted in the middle. Morton’s added a third TV in the barroom as well.
Hasen said that although looks are important, his priority is that customers find the new space to be comfortable above all else.
“In the end, when you’re delivering hospitality, it needs to look good, but it needs to feel better,” he said. “In my mind that’s how you create ambiance.”
Project description: Renovation of Morton’s The Steakhouse in uptown
Address: 227 W. Trade St., Charlotte
Contractor: ADB Commercial Construction Inc.
Construction started: November 2014
Construction completed: March 2015