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Metropolitan Museum of Art Creates Spacious Public Cafeteria, Centerpiece of New, Expanded Museum Restaurant Program

Petrie Court Café Also Reopens as Full-service Restaurant

New York, June 4, 2003 – A spacious, attractively informal new public cafeteria for visitors to The Metropolitan Museum of Art will open on Tuesday, June 17. Located at the very center of the Museum, on the ground floor beneath the Medieval Sculpture Hall, this handsome cafeteria—which comfortably seats 440—replaces the long-time first-floor restaurant adjacent to the Mary and Michael Jaharis Gallery for Greek and Roman art. At the same time, the existing Petrie Court Café—located along the glass wall facing west into Central Park from the Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court—will reopen concurrently as a full-service restaurant for Museum visitors, featuring café cuisine accompanied by breathtaking views of the park.

The creation of the new, family-friendly guest cafeteria and the Petrie Court Café are intended to enhance the Museum's amenities for visitors of all ages.

In moving its main dining facility to the centrally located new cafeteria, the Museum sets the stage to begin planning the completion of the final phase of its 1993 "Greek and Roman Master Plan." In this upcoming, eagerly anticipated phase, the grand space at the south end of the Fifth Avenue building, used since 1949 to house the Museum's restaurant and cafeteria, will be converted back to its original intended use: as a Roman sculpture court. The new court will eventually complete the Metropolitan's breathtaking sweep of classical art that begins off the Great Hall at the Robert and Renée Belfer Court for prehistoric and early Greek art and proceeds into the suite of galleries for Greek art from the sixth to the fourth centuries B.C.

The new cafeteria—which features vaulted ceilings and archways that contrast magically with the sleek, modern design of the food stations and contemporary furniture—was designed by Phil George Design Group, with Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates as architects, to offer a completely different but highly enjoyable and efficient dining experience for the Museum's millions of annual visitors.

Comfortable and bright, with light woods contrasted by white tiles, and a sweeping glass partition, "the cafeteria" offers the ultimate in self-service dining. "Action stations" are staffed by white-jacketed cooks who prepare food to order. The appetizing and nutritious variety of freshly prepared selections includes "kids' meals" as well as soups, salads, and sandwiches (cold and grilled); pizza and pastas; and hot items just off the grill, such as Angus burgers, steaks, lemon chicken, and pan-seared salmon. A wide range of desserts and beverages complements the meal.

David E. McKinney, President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, commented: "In bringing this dramatic change to the visitor experience at the Metropolitan, we accomplish two major goals: diversifying our amenities into several areas of the main building, and freeing up the glorious space that has for so long seemed to cry out for a return to gallery use for great works of art." Mr. McKinney said the move would clear the way for preparatory and planning work to begin on the restoration and reinstallation of the future Leon Levy and Shelby White Roman Court.

The project to house the restaurant in its new location has had the added benefit of enabling construction of a new gallery for special exhibitions of European sculpture and decorative arts. Its inaugural installation, Celebrating Saint Petersburg, organized to coincide with the former imperial Russian capital's 300th anniversary, will open to the public on June 11, followed by Chocolate, Coffee, Tea, an exhibition of the serving utensils developed for these beverages when they were new to 17th-century Europe (February 3 – July 11, 2004).

In addition to the new cafeteria, a café in The American Wing is in the planning stages.

"We are very proud to be associated with the new facilities and delighted to be working in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art," stated Dick Cattani, President of Restaurant Associates Managed Services, which will continue to manage the Museum's food facilities. "Our company shares the same philosophy as the Metropolitan in offering the highest quality level of hospitality and the most memorable total experience to our guests. An afternoon spent at the Museum is a completely satisfying and enjoyable experience for everyone."

Hours of operation for the new cafeteria are Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 11:30 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Petrie Court Café is open Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 9:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 9:30 a.m. through 10:30 p.m. In addition to the new cafeteria and Petrie Court Café, Restaurant Associates operates all other food facilities in the Metropolitan Museum, including the Great Hall Balcony Bar, The Trustees Dining Room (exclusively for members), and the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden Café.

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