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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5 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 DESIGNERS DISH! everything is trying to be something, there's no place for your eye to rest. It's like a soup in which the chef has used too many different kinds of vegetables and spices. By the time it all blends together, it actually becomes bland. Lam: We see a lot of instances where not enough attention is paid to flow. For exam- ple, an operation may have limited space, so they put the bar in the back. You can walk in and know right away that they should have put it in the front to ensure buzz and the energy up front. Another common mistake is not hiring the proper professionals, whether at the bar, in the kitchen or on the design side. Operators do things how they want, cut corners to save money, and when things don't work out, they don't know why. There's no shortcut to successful restaurant design. Thilenius: One big misstep goes back to trends. So many designs are based around what's trendy as opposed to being environ- ments created around a well-thought-out concept. Overuse of trendy elements dilutes their effectiveness because they become too familiar. I remember when the reclaimed wood look started, and now it's in everything from Starbucks to pop-up retail, malls and hotels. It speaks to how often designers will regurgitate trends until they're completely overexposed and no longer relevant. How do you see restaurant design and/or guest experience changing most notably? DeBoer: More technology and going green are big trends for two reasons: Customers like being "plugged in," and becoming more energy-efficient is good for profits. In the end, however, built-in USB ports and digital sommeliers are intriguing, but great food, a welcoming and interesting atmosphere, and a sense of community are what keep people coming back. Go- ing forward, restaurants will be increas- ingly challenged to straddle the line between hospitality and high-tech to be both special and successful. Polonsky & Mann: Adoption of a holistic approach to the restaurant experience, from concept to launch, will become more prevalent. It's something we've been preaching for a couple of years now. A few incredible restaurateurs have long focused on integrated brand details, but until recently, most of their peers were only focusing on one area: design but not food, marketing but not graphics, etc. The competition is too vast now and the patrons have such high expectations, it's imperative that brands be cohesive from A to Z. Alinovich: Yes, and a lot of restaurants are moving away from stuffy, pretentious fine dining to a more relaxed atmo- sphere. It's definitely very food-driven, and you can still have a fine-dining expe- rience, but the spaces are more humble and comfortable in design and attitude. I also think food halls will continue to grow. They're popping up everywhere and are great because they give people a lot of options in one location. LISA POPE-WESTERMAN Gensler, Houston How I spend my time: During the day, I'm usu- ally collaborating with clients on their vision for their new concept. Outside of the office, I'm usually eating out and traveling, which is great fun but also research. One challenge: Restaurants are very fast-track projects given the complexity of the projects and the diverse array of materials that have to be sourced, built and perfectly installed while staying on schedule and budget. Inspiration: We recently worked on several projects in connection with the Texas Medical Center in Houston, the world's largest medical center. It's very inspiring how the medical industry is always looking to improve the world through collabora- tion and research. Their work further inspires me to make the world a bet- ter place by creating healthy, honest, authentic community experiences. Underscoring ingredient quality and creating a visual connection to the food being served, Gensler designed Peska Seafood Culture in Houston with displays of fresh seafood on ice along the entrance to the dining room. Photos by Dror Baldinger For much more Designers Dish! please see rddmag.com/march2017.

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