Restaurant Development & Design

NOV-DEC 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 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 • N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 7 EL FIVE IS A VIBRANT FEAST FOR THE SENSES El Five's menu showcases the Mediterranean region's cultural and culinary melting pot, venturing well beyond familiar Italian, Greek and Span- ish staples to include liberal doses of Middle Eastern influence. Says Cucci, "The Middle Eastern region is often left out of the Mediterranean cuisine dialog, but cuisines from Turkey, Syria, Israel and Lebanon are starting to have their day in the culinary lexicon. We wanted the Middle Eastern side of the Mediter- ranean to shine through, too." With that as the overall concept and menu inspiration, Cucci was still left with the challenge of turning a sterile new space in an office building into a suitably rich and vibrant setting. A passionate collector of old and unusual things, he ultimately found his muse on eBay. The Aha Moment "I had bought a couple of huge, vintage Middle Eastern movie posters from a guy on eBay. When I got them, I just kept buying more," Cucci says. "They were so beautiful. I bought 30 or 40 of them. I was really stumped as to what this restaurant should look and feel like, but then I saw these and thought, 'Why not bring in a very obscure element and make that the theme?' That's when I felt, 'OK, now I'm inspired. I know what this needs to be.'" Kevin Stephenson and Chris Davis, principals of Denver-based BOSS. architecture, who worked with Cucci on Edible Beats' previous adaptive reuse projects, shared his uncertainty about how best to give such a new space some soul. The posters clicked for them, too. "Justin is sort of like a mad scientist and collector of all manner of found objects and obscure things, which he likes to incorporate into his restaurants," Stephenson says. "This project took a turn when he found the giant movie post- ers, some the size of billboards. We were sorting through them and playing with imagery that would work and ultimately decided to cover most of the walls and portions of the ceiling with them. We curated the various images based on colors or designs or how the people were depicted in them. They're all graphic designs, not photographs, and have a nice vintage quality to them. The soul of the project really started to emerge when we brought them in because they had such authenticity. We always believe that there's an artistic or handmade compo- nent of every restaurant that we work on that transforms it — takes it to a level that you can't just do with materials and finishes. These were that component. And it's so interesting because the content of the imagery is such that it couldn't really even exist in the Middle Eastern social climate now, but somebody saved them." With the posters and the actors in them — who Davis likes to think of as the "permanent entourage" within the space — providing the mainstage drama, the team worked to add shapes, textures and materials that would complement but Snapshot Ownership: Edible Beats Location: Denver Concept: Mediterranean/Middle East- ern tapas, paella Size: 4,400 square feet inside, 660 square feet outside Seats: 200 dining, 100 bar/lounge Average check: $40 Dayparts: Dinner Design highlights: Vintage Middle Eastern movie posters, open kitchen, chef's counter, outdoor terrace, city and mountain views, glass wine room, Monkeypod wood tabletops, and char- coal gray floors and fabrics Project duration: 3½ years The main dining room offers terrific views from every seat, whether toward the terrace and the city outside or inward toward the vibrant design and energy of the kitchen.

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