With an interior that exudes grace, elegance and delicate finishing, it’s hard to imagine that the new Upper East Side Belgian restaurant Rouge Tomate was completed in only 21 weeks.

Completed in September, the $10 million interior renovation successfully transformed a space formerly home to the famous Copacabana nightclub into an enduring restaurant with a commitment to sustainability and harmony.

Rouge Tomate Restaurant

In order to manage the restaurant and oversee day-to-day operations, the Brussels-based restaurant owners opened an office on site. With the owner on-site every day, GCs Shawmut Design and Construction and lead designers Bentel & Bentel were able to work quickly and resolve and foreseeable complications. One particular challenge that required such teamwork was the stabilization of the existing floor. When preparing for the new wood flooring, the top slab was removed and revealed old gypcrete and terracotta subfloor that was deteriorating and unsound. Together crews decided to add structural steel and concrete pour to create a new slab.

“The success of this project really was because of the open, trusting relationships developed between all team members,” said Pat Coburn, Shawmus project executive. “It was the best project team relationship I have ever experienced.”

In order to keep in line with Rogue Tomate’s philosophy of a harmonious alignment of balanced cuisine, well-being and social and environmental consciousness, the design and construction not only had to be innovative but sustainable. Elements that were particularly innovative included the installation of a reflecting pool on the ground floor to connote a cranberry bog, the custom fabrication of a butternut film applied to the glass bathroom doors, the intricately designed millwork lattice walls on both levels, a two-story tomato tower to greet visitors, a glass and wood enclosed display kitchen and a juice bar on the ground floor designed to emulate a tomato dropped into a pool.

As for sustainability, the construction incorporated green building practices throughout, earning the restaurant a nod as one of the Green Restaurant Association’s 174 Certified Green Restaurants in the United States. Natural, high quality materials were selected as well as recycled materials from the space’s previous occupancy. Materials included FSC-certified wood for the white oak flooring in the lounge as well as bar stools, chairs and tables throughout; greenguard-certified chairs, tables and leather upholstry; no or low VOC paint and caulking and recycled materials such as Dal-Tile, grout, frames, doors and steel. Energy usage was also minimized by way of LED lighting, low-flush toilets and efficient Energy Star-rated kitchen equipment.

“The level of quality in the space was extraordinary,” said Lou Calcagni, Shawmut project superintendent. “All of the subcontractors took absolute pride in their work knowing how much Rouge Tomate cared about the details.”

Key Players:

Developer/Owner: Rouge Tomate Group
General Contractor: Shawmut Design and Construction
Design Firm: Bentel & Bentel