Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 2017

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2 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 Y / J U N E 2 0 1 7 Peer to Peer BY DANA TANYERI, Senior Contributing Editor Vice President, Experience Design & Innovation, Curiology Group Q&A with Brian Graziano H ave you seen a modern sports stadium lately — in person, not on a screen over the bar or facing your favorite arm- chair? If so, you've witnessed just how elevated the stadium hospitality experi- ence has become. Chicago-based Levy Restaurants, a leading food-and-bev- erage firm in the sports and entertain- ment space (as well as in restaurant, retail and convention center sectors), gets some of the credit. Yes, the food has come a long way from peanuts and Cracker Jack, but the concepts and designs are increasingly sophisticated as well. With last summer's launch of Curiology, a wholly-owned subsidiary, Levy upped the ante. The move central- izes and enhances the company's own research, creative strategy and design resources for its partners as well as for clients outside of the Levy portfolio. Bri- an Graziano, whose career has included stints at top Chicago design consultan- cies and work on big brands like Nike, Gatorade and FedEx, now leads Curiol- ogy's experience design team. First, can you clarify Curiology's place within the Levy organization? BG: We're a subsidiary, but we function as a stand-alone entity. Our cur- rent portfolio consists of Levy partners and venues almost exclusively in sports and entertainment. Levy has always held design in high regard, but one of the big reasons they launched Curiology and reimagined our design capabilities is to stay in front of what's been a massive evolution in expectations that fans are bringing to the game-day experience. What's driving that evolution? BG: A lot of venues associate the need for change with the rise of Millennials, but I think it's less of a generational thing. It's just increasing consumer expectations for systemically designed, high-quality experiences. We all have access to Amazon, Uber, Netflix, Nest, Starbucks and so many other companies that have raised the bar and reshaped how we should think about our sports experienc- es. They've given consumers more power and choices, and we're trying to help our partners think about how they can deliver not just on food but on the whole game- day experience. It's no longer, "Hey, let's design this restaurant," but rather, "How can we think differently across this whole experience?" That's a pretty different role for designers and creatives. Any examples that you can share? BG: Levy is the F&B provider for the Atlanta Falcons' new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and Curiology's role in that project is indicative of our approach. We started by working closely with E 15 , a separate Levy subsidiary that provides advanced analytics. We did a lot of research to find out who the people of Atlanta are, what they like to eat, where they spend money, etc., and to identify types of food and pricing that should be available to fans. Working in collabora- tion with executives on the Falcons' side, we then developed a variety of concepts to answer those needs. In one of our last meetings, we hung up all the concepts on a giant wall and did a virtual walk- through of the stadium and said, "If we put this here, it's going to have this impact here, and if we put Tex-Mex here,

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