Malia Paasch made a name for herself in Tidewater as the owner of the Birch, one of the best beer bars in the country. In August she opened Four Eleven York, a luxury restaurant tucked away in tony Freemason. We popped in to talk food and design with Paasch and her interior decorators, Allison Whitmore and Leslie Drinkwalter from Space Design Group.
You’re running a restaurant and a bar, and remodeling a historic inn. How is life right now?
Paasch: Life is a bit of a whirlwind at the moment. But I enjoy being busy and I get to spend much of that time with my partner in the project, Jeremy, who also happens to be my significant other, so that is a win-win.
What style inspirations did you draw on for the look of the restaurant at Four Eleven York?
Whitmore: We were inspired by the rustic architecture and wanted to be true to that, but wanted to add some refined elements. I notice sharp contrasts and the juxtaposition of the rough hewn ceiling, exposed brick and concrete floor with the more refined elements: the lights over the bar, the tile, the fine fabrics on the banquette and the table décor. This is a fine dining establishment and we wanted it to feel that way without being too fussy. I hate fuss!
What’s with the magnolias?
Paasch: Magnolias always make me think of the South, and when Carrie Coleman, our art dealer, showed me these Thomas Hager pieces, I was sold. We were looking for art that was elegant and would add a presence without being too bold.
How will the inn look?
Whitmore: The inn is going to have a similar feel to the restaurant. We strive for cohesion in all of our projects. It will be clean-lined, elegantly simple –– casual seagrass and wool carpets, beautiful fabrics, marble bathrooms, fine linens, contemporary art. Pure luxury and a true escape for the guests.
The music in the restaurant leans toward classy. What are you listening to these days?
Paasch: A little Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, and a little throwback to my high school days listening to the new John Mayer single.
What’s in your glass these days?
Paasch: The L’Ecole No 41 Chenin Blanc has been a favorite recently. It’s on our list and has been such an exquisite pairing for many of our dishes. I enjoy light and refreshing things – one of my favorite beers is Kolsch – so the preferences from beer to wine translate very easily!
Is there a reason Four Eleven York is fish-heavy?
Paasch: One thing we’ve constantly thought about on this project is that we will be hosting guests from out of town and we want to offer them an experience that is true to the region. That is just one of the many reasons we highlight local farmers, Virginia wines, and seafood.
Four Eleven York 757.963.7000. 411 York St., Norfolk. FourElevenYork.com
– Distinction magazine staff