“My ‘girls’ are very demanding today,” says Salinas proprietor Mary Catherine Mikula, who not only runs one the most romantic restaurants in NYC, but also spends 20-30 hours per week maintaining fresh roses for the dining rooms. For three years, diners have been clamoring to Salinas for the award-winning Spanish cuisine and also to be surrounded by mesmerizing roses.
Salinas only purchases special roses from Ecuador, the “wine country of roses,” says Mikula. “Rose years are like wine vintages: certain roses have bad years, which makes way for another type of rose to take the spotlight.” Depending on the time of year, diners are surrounded by free spirits, freedoms, matildas, hermosas, hot ladies, or sexy reds. Mary advises to stick to one tone in an arrangement. “When their mixed, they tend to look like delivered flowers.”
The flowers carefully travel for one week, to face Mary Catherine’s harsh Chelsea line-up to determine their best placement, based on shape, color, and tone. “We use everything. Floppy roses are perfect for bud vases.”
Each flower is given a hot bath to strengthen the heads and stems for one to two hours. Roses drink through their thorns, so Mary shaves the stems for better water intake, lengthening their lives by 4 to 6 days. After a week, the salvageable flowers are cut again for smaller arrangements.
The roses have become so coveted, that guests have a tendency to literally steal them. As a precaution, Salinas now has a deterrent printed on the menu, reminding guests that the flowers are for everyone to enjoy with “a charge of $15 per stem” should they wish to take a flower. “We really personalize the flowers, because we understand how they are a part of the heartbeat of Salinas. That’s why I take it so personally when people steal them.”
Incorporating the roses into the restaurant’s interior design concept transformed less desirable areas into some of the most requested tables in the dining room. The flowers at Salinas complete the attempt to touch all the senses. “Most restaurants don’t want to take the time or money,” says Mary, “but we want every sense to be touched. New music, new food, and new flowers are all part of our endless pursuit of perfecting the space.”