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Napa Restaurateur Donna Scala to Develop Signature Casual Dining
Restaurant Concepts for Hilton's Full Service Hotel Brands
Scala’s First Project Will be the Urban Tavern at the Landmark Hilton San Francisco 

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - July 13, 2007 - The Hilton Family of Hotels announced today that it has entered into an exclusive partnership with critically acclaimed restaurateur Donna Scala to develop signature casual dining concepts for its full service hotel brands. Scala, owner of Napa Valley’s renowned Bistro Don Giovanni, will design and concept the new casual restaurants. Donna and her husband Giovanni have been responsible for several highly praised restaurants, including Piatti Ristorante and Scala’s Bistro, which they opened in 1995 in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The year it opened, Scala’s Bistro was named Best New Restaurant nationwide by Food and Wine Magazine, and Donna Scala received the distinguished honor of Best New Chef. 

“Donna Scala is a proven owner-operator. Under her creative leadership, we will transform our casual dining restaurants into memorable, social destinations,” said Alexander Mirza, senior vice president, Corporate Development, Hilton Hotels Corporation. “Our partnership with Donna Scala is consistent with our overall direction to license and lease restaurants to proven third party operators such as Drago’s at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside and Capitol Grille at the Hilton Indianapolis.” 

“I am thrilled to be involved in this new venture with the Hilton Family of Hotels to redefine the casual dining experience and I am pleased to be working on another great restaurant project in the magical city of San Francisco. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones at the Tavern,” said Scala. 

Hilton Hotels Corporation and its owners expect to build or re-concept nearly all existing casual restaurants in company owned and managed North American full service hotels by 2009. The first project to come out of the partnership with Scala will be the Urban Tavern at the landmark Hilton San Francisco. Set to begin construction in August 2007, the Urban Tavern will be a warm and inviting gathering place to meet, drink and dine. The restaurant is expected to open in the first quarter of 2008. 

“As the first project we are working on with Scala, the Urban Tavern builds on a tradition of welcome, comfort and honest fare, adding spice and drama to make it a great venue for a city renowned for great food,” said Meredith Quarnstrom, vice president, Food & Beverage, Hilton Hotels Corporation. “Donna Scala will coach and direct the hotel’s culinary team and also develop specialty menus for catering and in-room dining.” 

Unique features of the Urban Tavern will include a charcuterie serving signature cheese, meat and antipasto plates and a large community table that will serve as the focal point of the restaurant. A glowing fireplace will be positioned to be viewed from almost every seat to not only provide warmth, but to set the tone of the environment as welcoming and inviting. Scala and her staff will work with the region’s wine makers, farmers and artisanal cheese purveyors. 

Scala’s future projects will include licensed concepts similar in nature to the world-renowned Bistro Don Giovanni, as well as a new concept for pizza – a specialty that Scala has been perfecting since age five. Scala has been recognized on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Newsweek, and in GQ. While her culinary skills cover a variety of the world’s cuisines, Scala’s cooking style is heavily influenced by her Greek heritage. A resident of Napa, she is inspired by the vegetables and herbs she grows at her Bistro Don Giovanni restaurant and makes her own wine called Scalas. 

Donna Scala

As owner of Bistro Don Giovanni, Donna Scala blends key elements that make the Bistro a unique dining experience.

Donna grew up in Virginia, where her family was in the hotel/restaurant business. Her grandfather, of Greek descent, had several different types of restaurants, which inspired her to follow in the family footsteps. Donna spent a year in the South of France studying her culinary craft. Upon her return in 1982, she opened a gourmet food store in Sausalito called Donarcy's, featuring pastas, soups and gourmet food to go with a French/Italian flair.

Just about the time Donna and Giovanni Scala got together, Claude Rouas of the well-known Auberge du Soleil asked them to put together an Italian restaurant for a Yountville location. The Scala's named and came up with the concept of Piatti Ristorante. After six years with Piatti Ristorante, Donna and Giovanni decided to branch out on their own and in 1993 they opened Bistro Don Giovanni, specializing in Rustic Italian and Southern French food.

Donna Scala is passionate about her creations, and only uses the freshest, finest raw ingredients from local purveyors as well as vegetables and herbs from the restaurant's gardens. The Scala's also produce their own olive oil from the olive trees located on the property.

In 1995 Donna and Giovanni opened Scala's Bistro located in San Francisco in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The year it opened, Scala's Bistro was voted Best New Restaurant nationwide. After five years, Donna and Giovanni left Scala's Bistro and now reside permanently in the Napa Valley, where they solely devote all their time to Bistro Don Giovanni.

About Hilton Hotels Corporation 

Hilton Hotels Corporation (NYSE:HLT) is the leading global hospitality company, with more than 2,800 hotels and 480,000 rooms in 76 countries and territories, including 100,000 team members worldwide. The company owns, manages or franchises a hotel portfolio of some of the best known and highly regarded brands, including Hilton®, Conrad®, Doubletree®, Embassy Suites Hotels®, Hampton Inn®, Hampton Inn & Suites®, Hilton Garden Inn®, Hilton Grand Vacations™, Homewood Suites by Hilton® and The Waldorf=Astoria Collection®. 


Hilton Hotels Corporation
Kathy Shepard
Vice President – Corporate Communications


Also See: Chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand Joining Other Celebrity Chefs in the Trend that is Transforming Hotel Dining; Marriage Between Hotels and Celebrity-Chef Restaurateurs Can be Mutually Beneficial / June 2006
Celebrity Chefs & the Local Economy; The ‘Rick Stein Effect’ / May 2007


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