Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 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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2 8 • 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 Consultant's Take beautiful space and a beautiful brand. However, these two crucial parts of the overall brand experience compete more than they complement. They are often visually disjointed. It's not always a glaring difference, and sometimes it's not even consciously noticeable. How- ever, there exists a visual and emotional rift where a holistic and symbiotic relationship should exist. There are five key steps to ensure the branding team and the interiors team work to create a seamless experi- ence for guests. Start collaborating early. Collaboration between partners and cli- ent should start as early in the process as possible. Often, one partner starts before the other. In those cases, an onboarding session, or even multiple sessions, is cru- cial to team building. The client should be included to ensure their vision isn't misinterpreted or skewed. Collaboration leads to bigger and better ideas for all parties and to a stronger project overall. Stifling the collaborative process leads to linear, myopic thinking and ideas. There is power in numbers, which leads to stronger, more innovative results for all. The sooner collaboration is introduced, the better. Optimize similar processes. We all have our own process that we usher clients through to get optimal results. Serendipitously, our processes often share many commonalities, but it's the outputs that have differences. Every creative firm, be it brand or architec- ture, goes through a discovery process where we learn more about our clients' needs, wants and vision. Some of those needs and wants may be specific to the output, but a lot of the discus- sions are more conceptual and higher level. Those discovery sessions should be shared to optimize the process and ensure every team member shares the brand vision. Moving deeper into the process, there are other opportunities that partners should seek to align so the experience is best for the client and brand. Set a collaboration schedule. Collaboration is often treated as a box to be checked — one that offers little real value. After that is completed, each party returns to their business to per- form their tasks as usual without much follow-up interaction. This is where small gaps turn into great divides, leav- ing one party to play catch-up to the other or, in worst-case scenarios, go off in a direction that makes the brand's experiences disjointed. Check the egos. It's a natural inclination to protect one's team and to feel that your piece of the project and your own discipline has great impor- tance to the project overall. Egos never produce the best results, and when col- laboration is a means to a more creative and valuable end, the ego has no busi- ness being present. As professionals who are experienced and creative, it's easy to fall in love with your own ideas. We must all actively check our egos and keep our focus on what's most impor- tant: the client's brand and vision. Prepare and support your team. It's hard enough to put aside strong opinions and personalities within your own creative team. Add in more team members, and the task becomes exponentially more complex. It should be the job and focus of the principals to prepare teams for collaboration with outside partners. Discuss the scenario and the desired outcome with your team. Field pertinent questions to ease apprehensions or discuss best practices. Guide the team's collective expecta- tions, then leave an open door for airing grievances during the project. We live in a world where creativity is in no short supply. Whether you're a seasoned architect, a fresh brand designer or an artisan with an eye for beauty, you work in an area where new ideas are churned out at an astounding rate every minute of every day. Creativity is a valuable resource for those opening new restaurants as they can access it in every city across the world. Despite the enormous amount of creativity and high-quality design available today, however, we still have a problem. There's a gap between how our different disciplines collaborate — and that gap causes a rift between experiences within a restaurant's brand landscape. + Despite the particular event's weight, one mustn't forget that the impression a guest leaves with doesn't happen haphazardly.

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