Restaurant Development & Design

JUL-AUG 2018

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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5 4 • 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 • J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8 make sure we're not looking at either side in a vacuum. There has to be a balance." Most projects at WD kick off with a "rather large information request," adds Jennifer Baxter, senior productivity engi- neer at the firm. "Our team, in particu- lar, loves data," she says. "Part of what we ask for when working with existing brands is quantitative, transaction-level data. When we can get that for a set of stores for a year or more, we can roll it up in a number of different ways that help us understand different aspects of space planning design that might be important. A lot of clients think in terms of annual sales, which is great for the pro forma and understanding what busi- ness metrics they need to hit. But when we have corresponding transaction-level POS data, we get insights into things like what peak periods look like, for example, and party size and seating type most used. We can plan literally all of the resources within a specific location to make sure that what is needed from a customer experience, operations and business perspective are designed into that location." FRCH's Depp agrees that providing basic data on things such as party size to the design team is important. When not available, or in cases where the POS system doesn't capture it, the team conducts observational research in the field to get it. "Occasionally, a client will come to us with the mindset that they're just looking for the creative side, the design side," Depp says. "There can be an educational process for them to understand why we're asking for more technical, quantitative data for things like seating plans. Sometimes they think they know what they want, but the data suggests a different direction is called for. We've seen situations where clients wanted banquettes around the perimeter and four-tops in the center. We've had clients who wanted to do all six-tops, when analysis of POS data shows a lot of smaller party sizes coming in. That's concrete, important information that we can design to." When working with clients to create new brand experiences, FRCH follows a three-phase approach to research: inform, inspire and validate. Kelsey Chessey, senior brand strategist, notes that quanti- tative and, in particular, qualitative data gathered at each phase is critical to shap- ing successful brand experiences. "In terms of driving informing design, qualitative data is more impor- tant than ever in this marketplace," Chessey says. "That's where you get to human insights and figuring out how brands connect with real people on a deeper, longer-term level. Part of the reason that we've seen a shift towards brands using this type of data to drive design is that they're realizing that those human connections create a longer-term competitive advantage. They can help them better understand who they are as a brand, how they can fit into the marketplace and offer something unique. Social media is a particularly rich source for gathering this type of data." Dawn Arcieri, senior interior de- signer at Gensler's Houston office, agrees that a wide variety of research needs to inform every restaurant project but says it's often limited-service chains that are most tuned in to the need for it. In those instances, she says, it's usually all about creating a great guest experience while at the same time getting people through the line faster. "In that regard, we look for a lot of different data points," Arcieri says. "For instance, how long are the wait times? How are people moving through the space? Are people coming in in groups? How large and where is the queue posi- tioned, and is it cumbersome for diners? If we're able to get solid, data-based answers to those questions, whether via sensors or video or other observational research, we can tweak the design to make it better. Most operators, however, haven't yet started to drill down into that type of data." MEETS IN DATA-DRIVEN ART ALGORITHM DESIGNS The interior design of fast-casual Holler & Dash is a mix of art and algorithm.

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