Restaurant Development & Design

March-April 2017

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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1 2 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 7 BUZZ who's doing what From the proprietor behind the successful Bar Marta in Chicago comes a new venture in the city's food-centric West Loop. Won Fun is the ground-floor modern Sichuan restaurant that seats 60 people, and 2Fun Chinese is the lively upstairs lounge that seats 140 customers and offers dim sum, snacks and a DJ booth, complete with karaoke on Tuesdays. The concepts reside in a 100-year-old warehouse once home to a deli and grocery company. How would you describe the overall design concept for the upstairs and downstairs? AB: The design really happened by piece- meal — I'm a cook by training, so when I was designing, I kept adding different elements, and the space evolved over the course of the construction process. It wasn't "OK, this is the design; now build it." The space we took over was this cool industrial warehouse with a long history in the area, so we wanted to keep some of the original elements, like the steel columns and timber ceilings as well as the glass box windows, which we used as the base for some painted gold dragons. The red-and-black color scheme and moody lighting in Won Fun is unique. What inspired it? AB: I was going for a Chinese film noir look inspired by "Raise the Red Lantern," which is a great movie. That's where the idea for the 280 red silk lanterns that decorate the ceiling came from. They were handmade by a local artist. We also built the red leather booths with these black geometric divid- ers and lights that create a reddish glow over the tables. The centerpiece is a 60- foot dragon we brought back from China. And we kept the building's original brick walls, but they used to be covered in a heavy-duty diamond-plated steel that we removed and refurbished and used as the base of the bar to add some texture. We also kept the concrete floors but refurbished them. It's like a Chinese movie in a warehouse. Upstairs, we kept the color scheme very similar. Did other design elements come from your travels? AB: I used to live in Asia and brought back these cool gold Tibetan doorknock- ers. I had them in my house for eight years, and now they're on the host stand. And we also used these awesome, hand-cast dragon door handles on the outside of the doors, which themselves are 100 years old. We found them in the walls inside the old space after doing some demo. It was an old door that was covered up. So we pulled them out and cleaned them up. Q&A with Won Fun and 2Fun Chinese Founder Austin Baker Photos courtesy of Neil Burger Photography

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