Sadelle’s designer embraces joie de vivre

Photo by Anthony Mair
Photo by Anthony Mair

When designer Ken Fulk got the call to do the original Sadelle’s in New York, he was somewhat mystified.
“Why did you call me to do a bagel emporium?” wondered the designer, who is based in San Francisco and New York. “But it was a much bigger idea.”

Bigger, yes, but not quite as big as the Las Vegas Sadelle’s, which the Major Food Group opened at Bellagio earlier this year. The original measures about 2,250 square feet, but the Strip offshoot is nearly four times that, at 10,000 square feet. And while Fulk said the original is “a classic SoHo space” with a preponderance of exposed brick walls and leather-bedecked wooden booths, the local one is expansive and airy and overlooks the conservatory and the pool.

Designer Ken Fulk says Sadelle's, overlooking the Bellagio Conservatory and pool, required special touches to emphasize its premier location.
Designer Ken Fulk says Sadelle’s, overlooking the Bellagio Conservatory and pool, required special touches to emphasize its premier location.

Sadelle’s, which took the place of Cafe Bellagio, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner from 6 a.m. to midnight daily. But this is about as far from a typical coffee shop, as Bellagio is from a typical hotel-casino. “For me, it was more a Belle Epoque brasserie,” Fulk says. “The best breakfast of your life, and then you come back at night and have vodka and caviar and watch the carts with desserts roll by. We wanted it to be beautiful, but in a grand way.”

The coffered ceiling, with box-beam grids in multiple shapes and sizes, is a custom shade Fulk named Sadelle’s Ocean Blue. “It makes you happy when you sit,” he says.

Other colors reflect the restaurant’s specialties: salmon pink, toasted sesame, buttery cream cheese. The floor is hand-scraped European oak.

The restaurant’s expansive size presented the challenge of creating multiple spaces, or “experiences.” The bar has an intimate area with big, green sofas, Fulk says. “You could have a beautiful lounge experience before you moved into the beautiful, big dining room.”

All of the furniture was designed for the restaurant, as were many of the fabrics. Rolling pastry carts are salmon pink with enameled tops, like the tables. The exceptional nature of the restaurant’s setting clearly wasn’t lost on Fulk. “It really is, for my mind, one of the great anchors for Las Vegas,” he says. “We wanted to elevate that experience, yet maintain the fact that in many ways it’s one of the true cornerstones of a dining experience in Las Vegas. We wanted it to feel that special.”

One goal was to emphasize the view of the pool. “That’s why we had it look and feel more like a (sidewalk) cafe, where you really were facing and engaging in that area,” he says. “On the windows overlooking the conservatory, we have custom drapery to really frame the view out and the view in, because that is one of the beautiful things about the space, that premier location.”

Employee uniforms and tableware have a decidedly retro look. “We did all of the brand work,” Fulk says. “I like the old-fashioned nature of the brand … it’s really beautiful.”

Another custom touch just for the Las Vegas location is the toile pattern that decorates items such as the to-go cups and french fry sleeves. “It’s a special ode to Las Vegas in Sadelle’s there,” he says. “We went to the nth degree to make sure it was all considered.”

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