The Big Easy Winebar & Grill is due to open its doors this weekend and Therese Virserius, owner of New York based interior design company Virserius will be in Durban for the finishing touches!!!
Earning his nickname ‘Big Easy’ as much for his effortless golf swing as for his big heart and philanthropic efforts, Ernie Els is synonymous with all-round excellence; pursuing the best in sports and leisure, while always staying true to his love of family and country.
“Having travelled the world, I have developed a good taste for great hospitality in a fun, relaxed environment in which to enjoy the end of a long day – spending time with friends over a great bottle of wine and a meal,” says Els. “The ethos behind ‘Big Easy’ is to achieve that.”
“We are excited to be part of one of the world’s iconic hotel brands through this partnership with Hilton and Durban offers the perfect launching-pad, with its laid-back vibe and idyllic weather. It’s a great fit.”
Jan Van der Putten, Hilton Worldwide vice president operations: Africa & Indian Ocean says: “The Hilton Group are world leaders in hospitality and this partnership cements our vision to be at the cutting-edge of restaurant design and innovation. In addition, we pride ourselves on our exceptional food offering and service. We expect the Durban market to lap up the Big Easy Durban by Ernie Els, as there is nothing quite like it in the City.”
The Big Easy project at Hilton Durban brings together a dynamic, international creative team. The vision of interior designers Virserius Studio, an award-winning hospitality interior design firm out of New York and Paris, was to create a space that was ‘beautiful, friendly and open, to ensure that everyone who visits will feel comfortable.’ The Winebar & Grill by Ernie Els in Durban, is South African in nature, combining several unique spaces, all tied together by inviting rustic elements such as wood-beamed ceilings, beaten copper, rich textured leather upholstery, brushed concrete and handcrafted furniture.
The open plan interior of the restaurant comprises a Chefs Table and open Kitchen, where diners can get ‘up close and personal’ with Chef Fourie and watch the Chefs at work in the ‘heart’ of the restaurant. A large Bar with an impressive wine bottle display, a dramatic floor to ceiling backdrop and a copper bar counter, dominates the east end of the space.
The Els influence can be seen throughout with the many personal touches that have been introduced. The Lounge area is stocked with Big Easy vintage wines from Ernie Els’ own vineyard and showcases a feature wall filled with memorabilia, replica trophies and images; while in the Private Dining Room, diners have the opportunity to sit down in comfortable style, as if in the company of ‘The Big Easy’ himself.
Outside, the Terrace with upper and lower decks, for al fresco dining and chilling, features a lush green foliage wall, as well as locally-sourced furniture and accents, honouring South Africa’s rich artistic heritage and natural beauty, where guests can fully immerse themselves in the magic of the outdoors and Durban’s idyllic weather.
ABOUT THE DESIGN TEAM
Virserius Studio is an award-winning hospitality interior design firm that draws upon its multidisciplinary strengths to deliver exceptional results for clients. The last year has been marked by global success and explosive growth, including new projects in the Caribbean and Europe, and a recent award for best lobby/public area/lounge design by the International Hotel & Property Awards. Big Easy Winebar & Grill is the firm’s entry into Africa.
For Big Easy Winebar & Grill, Virserius Studio drew design inspiration from Ernie Els and his vision of what his native South Africa represents to him. Together with Big Easy’s development team and Beyond Hospitality for food & beverage, the resulting concept is a very beautiful, friendly, and open atmosphere that ensures that everyone who visits will feel comfortable.
The Big Easy includes several unique spaces, all tied together by inviting rustic elements. The warmly pigmented floor screed, wood-beamed ceilings, metal lighting and handcrafted furniture come together in rich artisanal harmony. These colors and textures are very earthy and South African, which was a fun departure from the normally bright and bold V/S aesthetic, though the firm’s penchant for creating unique design moments remains apparent throughout.
The main area comprises the open kitchen and chef’s table, which will treat guests to seeing the chef’s work in a casual and welcoming way. The bar and lounge includes Big Easy vintage wines from Ernie Els’s own vineyard, and includes a feature wall that shows him at stages of his legendary life and golf career.
A particular standout feature in the private dining room is the handcrafted backlit rope ceiling that cascades down the wall, creating an almost theatrical touch.
The outdoor dining area includes a lower and upper terrace surrounded by a lush green wall that creates an intimate connection to the immediate surroundings. The lower terrace floor is laid in porcelain made to resemble wood, but laid out asymmetrically to give texture and a subtle pattern.
The centerpiece and highlight of this communal area is the “braai” where guests can fully immerse themselves in the magic and serenity of the surrounding landscape. A few shorts steps lead to the upper terrace, where the arrangement of locally-sourced furniture and accents honor South Africa’s rich artistic heritage and abundant natural beauty.