Veteran Restaurateur Denis Seyer Recharged After 4-Year Hiatus

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Mar. 10, 2014 12:00 am  

Denis Seyer at 1620 Savoy in west Little Rock: “It takes a lot of technique to do simple food.” (Photo by Russell Powell)

Seyer’s starting with 1620 Savoy, but in his role with RH Cuisine he may be consulting for Cache later. “He gave me carte blanche,” Seyer said of Harding.

1620 Savoy, which actually began life as Restaurant 1620, a project of Seyer and his business partner Paul Bash, closed June 30, 2012, for renovations and reopened in September 2012 with new owners Payne Harding, son of Rush, and three friends. But, Seyer said, the reopened and rechristened 1620 Savoy couldn’t quite figure out what it wanted to be, mixing fine dining with a space devoted on the weekends to more of a lounge scene complete with DJ. It was not, he said, an inspired pairing. So Seyer has done some light redecorating. The elegant Art Deco design still prevails. “I’m trying to relax the place a little bit without making it super casual,” he said.

1620 Savoy’s sales in 2013 totaled $950,112 compared with $435,384 in 2012, but the restaurant was closed January through August 2012 for renovation.

One focus of Seyer’s is customer service. He told a story about arriving more or less incognito at the 1620 bar only to find the bartender hunched over, face invisible, doing something with his hands. Perhaps he’s slicing lemons, Seyer thought, before finally lifting himself up to look over the bar to see the distracted bartender lost in the glow of his smartphone. This, Seyer said, is not acceptable.

Also unacceptable: iPad earbuds constantly implanted in ears. The staff at 1620 Savoy needs to be able to hear Seyer’s instructions.

His restaurant philosophy, like his food, is straightforward: “You have to give value” and “It takes a lot of technique to do simple food.”



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