Special to the Palm beach daily News by Carleton Varney
Palm Beach is like towns and cities across the globe — constantly changing. We see new architecture, new styles of clothing, new landscapes, new stores to try, new movies and shows to see — everything seems new sometimes.
And so it is with the newly revamped Royal Poinciana Plaza. The familiar architecture from the late 1950s remains in place, albeit with a nice facelift; but the place also has a new spirit, an unmistakable vibrancy.
Still, when I think about Royal Poinciana Plaza, I tend to recall the fashion shop I once decorated for the late Sara Fredericks in the space today occupied by Hermes. I recall the Palm Beach Club, later to become Au Bar, now the Palm Beach Grill. And, ah, how the landscapes at Royal Poinciana Plaza changed over the years.
The constant at this destination is that a trip there is about more than just shopping. It’s a Palm Beach experience, just as it often was in the past.
I recall evenings at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse and the Celebrity Room next door, along with visits to the Edna Hibel Museum of Art. And I recall the original décor of TooJays, the most constant of all.
I bet many of you share memories of what is today called “The Royal.” And if you do, do you recall the Schrafft’s restaurant that was an anchor at the plaza for so many years?
Schrafft’s was a destination for tea and ice cream, a place to buy chocolate, or a spot to enjoy a coffee or perhaps a biscuit, a tuna sandwich on wheat bread or even a cream-cheese sandwich on date-nut bread. Schrafft’s was colorful and delightful, and for years the high spot of the plaza.
And what a colorful and entertaining place it was. Maybe to some folks’ surprise, the plaza was not the stately gray building then that it is today. It was painted hibiscus pink with white trim — and the umbrellas over the Schrafft’s tables outside were a mix of sunshine yellow, aquamarine blue and hibiscus pink. Hooray for color!
In this new year, let’s remember Schrafft’s, for I’ve heard we may very well see the restaurant chain re-open under the direction of founder Gerald Shattuck’s godson, James Byrne. According to my conversations with James, the first opening may be in New York City, where the chain once operated a number of restaurants around the town. Schrafft’s ice cream has been sold across the country since the early 1900s, and a famous Boston landmark — the red “Schrafft’s” sign — is still lighted each day.
As we enter the new year, let’s consider the colors of the old Schrafft’s umbrellas at Royal Poinciana Plaza for decorating inspiration for the living room of your South Florida home, condominium or other residence.
Begin by painting the walls hibiscus pink with all the trim white. Bleach your wood floors to the whitest white, and them polyurethane the surfaces for durability. Find a handsome, modern rag rug woven in soft pink, white, aqua blue and pale green.
At your windows, hang curtains — on white poles — in a strip of pink, white and apple green. Either a narrow or wide stripe will do. You might edge the curtains with white bullion cotton fringe.
For the sofa upholstery, choose slipcovers with a pattern featuring happy hibiscus pink and apple green on a white background. Toss lots of pink cushions on the sofa — not just one pink but an array of pinks, from light to dark, in solids and prints. For club and lounge chairs, chose a hue from Schrafft’s ice cream colors; pistachio would be my choice.
All the pieces of wood furnishings can be painted white and trimmed in apple green or pistachio. I’d recommend white wicker lamps for your end tables, and lots of live greenery in handsome clay pots to help bring that Royal Poinciana Plaza look to your home.