Guests get it
Dining spaces occupy three floors of the historic, 15,000-square-foot Vail Mansion. Cannon admits diners were a little confused about how to navigate the space at first but quickly caught on. “They think it’s cool,” he says.
"Don't fight the design. Do what it's telling you."
Cannon started by hiring a landmark specialist. By rule, everything must be removable to restore the building when the tenant leaves. But that parameter didn’t hinder his vision. “We wanted to work with the space,” Cannon says, “not change it.”
While Jockey Hollow functions as one concept, there are two kitchens—a glassed-in one visible from The Dining Room and another in the basement for holding oysters, desserts and more. Staff also are shared. “It’s more efficient that all staff rotate to learn ... and can work the entire restaurant,” Cannon says.
A focus on art
Cannon brought in and commissioned contemporary art to keep with the original intention of the mansion, which was built in 1917 by the first president of AT&T as a pied-à-terre and personal museum. The bones of the building also serve as focal points, such as the fireplace in The Dining Room, the fine-dining spot.
Less risk, still challenges
Jockey Hollow carries a larger management team than traditional restaurants to handle the four different spaces simultaneously. To Cannon, it’s worth the expense. “But our [sales] goal is $10 million a year. It’s a larger fixed-labor cost, but in the long term, it’ll outweigh itself,” Cannon says.
Vibe by design
Cannon felt the basement’s brick walls and terra-cotta accents looked like a German rathskeller, or cellar. So that’s what he built, to cater to a younger crowd. “There are different demographics in each area,” Cannon says. Upstairs, for example, Vail Bar has an older clientele, while the oyster bar is mixed.