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4 6 • 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 DESIGNERS DISH! What trends or consumer forces are having a big impact on your restaurant projects right now? DeBoer: These days, consumers are obsessed with understanding how food is made, plated and presented. In 2016, there were more than 184 million Twit- ter posts tagged #food. This trend has foodies seeking more open kitchens, cook's tables, sushi/diner-style counters, etc. Restaurants are now being designed with Instagram in mind, and the public's need to be a part of the action is having a definite influence on restaurant design. Alinovich: I do think that social media is playing a pretty big role right now. People discover new places through social media and live vicariously via online access. So while it's not neces- sarily what we design for, having an "Instagrammable" space is important. We also see ongoing shifts toward fast casual, where the food is dictating the design of the space. High-end chefs are working to make their food more accessible. The food quality and ingredients are elevated, and so are the materials and the overall aesthetic, but without being stuffy. Pope-Westerman: There's defi- nitely much greater focus on the actual quality of the food. People are much smarter about food, more inter- ested in it and more mindful about what they put into their bodies. From a design standpoint, our teams need to under- stand that concept and tell the stories of the food, whether it's through literature, graphics, reinforcing it in the space or actually being able to see more of what's happening in the kitchen. Previously, the whole idea of open kitchens was more about excitement and razzle-dazzle. Now, it's much more about transparency, authenticity and communicating mes- sages about the quality of the food and how it's handled. To that end, we're also seeing and do- ing more projects that incorporate displays of key ingredients right up front for guests to peruse and even select from to create their meals. It might be fish on ice or steaks aging, but it's brought from behind closed doors in the back of the house to beautiful displays in the front that help connect people to the food being served. What role does research play in your work? Thilenius: Understanding the local cul- ture and market preferences of the areas surrounding a space we are designing is key. Aside from researching the history of a space, nothing beats pounding the pavement and spending time exploring the adjacencies that will ultimately sup- port the new restaurant. We are design- ing spaces for specific clienteles, so it's imperative that we get to know who these people are and understand their desires and expectations. Only then can we position the restaurant in a way that surpasses the status quo. This page: At Barnwood at the Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs, Alinovich and the team at McBride created an elevated farm-to-table aesthetic while ensuring a family-friendly vibe. Photos courtesy of The McBride Company CANDICE ALINOVICH The McBride Company, Manchester Center, Vt. How I spend my time: I'm doing a lot with the Margaritaville brand, helping move it from pri- marily a restaurant concept into a higher-end resort brand. It's a lot of fun. One challenge: Some of our projects are for pretty theatrical brands. It can be challenging to create spaces that are unique and true to the brand without being over-the-top. They have to be fun and entertaining for the whole family but still enjoyable for the local guy who just wants to stop in for a burger. Inspirational icon: Francis Mallmann, the Argentinian chef who was at the top of his game in very high-end, haute-cuisine restaurants but left that behind to follow his love for cooking over open flames. It speaks to the power of simplicity. There's power and romanticism in that.