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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7 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 TONY ROMA'S FOCUSES ON EXPERIENCE televisions above the bar and one above an outdoor fireplace. Along with the bar seating, it offers table seating and outdoor lounge furnishings, all of which offer a different type of custom- er experience than traditional casual- dining operations. The interior dining areas offer plenty of options as well. These spaces have a somewhat masculine feel with plenty of warm wood tones along with some metallic elements. The floor is a wood-style vinyl that is easier on the feet than hardwood or ceramic, says Culley. The main dining area now has an open kitchen, which adds energy and drama to the room. The large window into the kitchen has a small open space in front of it created by a set of six-person booths attached to a half-height wall. Smaller booths, meant for parties of four, sit against other walls in the space, while the center of the restaurant is filled with four- and six-top tables that can be easily pushed together for large parties. "The Orlando convention center is just down the street," Rogers says. "We get a ton of groups coming in from there. When you get a 15- or 20-person party, you've got to have that flexibility. When we talk about different dining occasions, that's one way we've built it in." Orlando's booming convention busi- ness influenced the restaurant's design in more ways than one, though. To accommodate business gatherings, the redesigned operation has three private dining spaces, each with its own audiovi- sual equipment. Two of the rooms can be combined into a single large space (with synchronized AV equipment) by retract- ing a folding panel wall. With total seating for 108, these rooms take up a good chunk of the oper- ation's revenue-generating space. When not being used by a private party, they can be used as regular seating thanks to design elements that connect them to the main dining room. The walls that create these private spaces have several large windows that connect to the main dining area, along with large sliding barn doors. During functions, the doors are closed and curtains drawn. When there's not an event, both are opened to create general seating. Unforeseen Challenges While the new design creates a much livelier space that can offer all sorts of dining experiences, getting to this point was challenging. While the initial construction time- line was set at 135 days, the entire proj- ect took nearly twice that long, according to Smith. Some of the overrun was due to the sheer size of the project. Remov- ing a bar, building another one, adding a covered patio — it's easy for all those to take longer than anticipated, he says. Also adding to the delay was simply the age of the building. Twenty-two years had passed since its last remodel, and with decades of work by different plumbers, electricians, etc., there wasn't a reliable set of plans that showed the company exactly what it was dealing with. "You run into things that you have to fix on the fly or fix something that you didn't know needed to be fixed until you tore something up. That contributed to the delay in the construction process," Smith says. In one case, for instance, the opera- tion found an I-beam at a spot slated for a large window between the restau- rant and the outdoor bar. The company adjusted by putting a smaller window on one side of the I-beam and a service window, originally planned for another location, on the other side. An even bigger challenge involved the restaurant's beer lines. The new indoor/outdoor bar has 20 beers on tap. After the company brought the opera- tion down to a single level, though, they found that the building didn't have the right slope to run underground lines from the main walk-in cooler to the bar — a distance of about 100 feet. To solve this problem, 10 beers from the walk-in (typically from the ma- jor national breweries) now run overhead through chilled lines in the ceiling. The other 10 are craft beers that are held The remodeled store includes new signage. To the left, the patio juts out, drawing the eyes of passersby.

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