Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 2017

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5 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 Y / J U N E 2 0 1 7 BURGER 21 FINDS ITS NICHE with the money saved on the tiles now going toward nicer-looking ductwork. The ceiling wasn't the only upgraded finish. The chain replaced its light gray tile with wood-look porcelain tile. Burger 21 has also gotten creative with flooring to help direct traffic. At the restaurant's en- trance, ordering counter and the shake bar (which is exactly what it sounds like), Burg- er 21 has installed a hexagonal tile pattern in black, gray and tan. This tile helps direct customers to the ordering counter and then on to the shake bar, where they may be inspired to order dessert. The shake bar itself has gotten a major overhaul. The bar's lighting now includes pendants as well as track lights that are used to spotlight some of the ingredients used in the restaurant's shakes. The countertop, along with the counter at the POS station, has been upgraded from Formica to quartz. The Formica-to-quartz upgrade was also implemented in some of the restaurant's tables. Other tables include butcher-block and distressed multi-wood tops. Burger 21's seating now includes benches, banquettes, upholstered booths and barstools in three colors. This variety, says Mark Johnston, "makes it warmer and more interesting. It breaks up the sea of sameness." As hoped, these upgraded finishes and furnishings have improved customers' opin- ion of the restaurant. "While our scores are extremely high on food quality, we wanted to bring up our perceived value number. We have done that by making the design more of a very nice casual-dining restaurant rather than that of a fast-food or fast-casual restaurant," says Mark Johnston. Notably, though, Burger 21 isn't dedicated to exclusively offering a casual- dining-quality experience. At the same time this new prototype was developed, the chain had a prototype for airport loca- tions (as well as food courts and college campuses) in the works as well. This style of store stays on-brand by reworking several design elements from the full-sized unit. The hexagonal tile used for wayfinding in the full-sized stores, for example, is part of the front-facing section of the POS counter, while the collage of numbers has been turned into one of the side walls of the unit. Menu items and ingredients are represented in small pieces of art hung on the back wall. A Hybrid Store While the first airport location with the de- sign is not yet built, the first full-sized store built with the new design officially opened last August in Sterling, Va. That restaurant, owned by a franchisee, is actually a hybrid of the old and new designs. Many of the drawings and plans for this space were already completed when the company in- troduced the new prototype. Scrapping all those and starting fresh didn't make sense from a financial or timeline perspective, says Mark Johnston. The white ceiling tile, for instance, was installed in this restaurant since much of the design and engineering had been predicated on its use. Despite a few holdover elements, the restaurant's design still had to be changed dramatically — and in short order. Much of the legwork for this task fell to Simone Sanguinette, Burger 21's con- struction and design manager. Given the tight timeline for this project — the restau- rant was actually under construction before everything was specified — Sanguinette made the situation clear to the representa- tives of the factories she worked with. "I just stressed that we needed to get everything decided right now and we needed prices right now," Sanguinette says. "I explained that we did a brand refresh, we had a new Burger 21 and all the materials we selected were going to be in every Burger 21 from now on — not only the new restaurants but also the corporate and franchised stores, which were going to be remodeled." She was able to spec out the store in good time. Not every decision was made at once, The chain's new logo splits the word "burger" into two stacked syllables, while the 21 is elevated to highlight its 21 burger offerings. The chain specified warmer colors and higher-quali- ty finishes in order to create a space that feels more casual than fast casual.

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