Tommy Ups the Classy: French Soft-Porn Inspired Emmanuelle Brings an Air of Sophistication to the Piazza Without Enforced Dress Codes

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Phobe Esmon and Michael Burleigh behind Emmanuelle's bar. Photo: Collin Keefe

The Piazza and its surrounding neighborhood has grown up a lot in the three years since P.Y.T. opened. That’s why owner and every-bro Tommy Up is shifting from boozy milkshakes and burgers to the more sophisticated French cocktail parlor concept in Emmanuelle, which opens to the public tonight. Patterned black velvet wallpaper, low lit twinkly lights and a soundtrack provided by Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot helps set a sexy, soft-focus vibe reminiscent of the string of seventies skin flicks from which the bar gets its name. “I haven’t actually seen Emmanuelle since I was probably 12-years-old,” Up told Grub. “That was my first exposure to any kind of French culture. France for me will remain intertwined with Emmanuelle for life.”

Bartendrix extraordinaire, Katie Loeb ran with that convoluted integration of Continental high culture, and late-night cable television sleaze to come up with the bar’s cocktail list. The inspiration comes through in a series of sparkly numbers (think Kir Royales), French twists on the classics, and novel new uses of French spirits in original creations. There’s also an emphasis placed on apertifs. Joining Loeb behind the bar are former Farmers Cabinet star Phoebe Esmon and The Industry’s Michael Burleigh.

“I found the best people I could to work with on this,” Up said of his bar’s crew. “They are so good at what they do, I feel lucky to be working with them.”

But how will all this sophistication go for the restaurant and bar owner who openly embraces and encourages rowdy, drunken behavior?

“Well the sophisticated know how to act inappropriately the best, don’t they?” Up asked.

As far as dress codes and deportment go, Emmanuelle will have a more easy-going approach than other cocktail joints like Hop Sing Laundromat, where the sneakered and flip-flopped routinely get the boot.

“I own one pair of shoes — exactly one — so we’re going to welcome stylish sneakers,” Up explained. “We really don’t have a dress code, or any rules.”

Emmanuelle, Hancock Street and Germantown Ave., (215) 791-8090