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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7 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 Form + Function Creating Atmosphere With Charlotte's, Plevrites wanted to balance the grunge and the glam. "Too much one way and it's just a dive bar; too glamorous and it loses authentic- ity," she says. Exposing one entire stretch of wall to its original cinder- block gave the room a rough, basement- like quality; the other wall is treated with glamorous fleur-de-lis wallpaper. To soften the effect of cinderblocks, that wall is draped with velvet, which also improves acoustics. "Lighting and sound are so, so, so important to atmosphere and tone," says Ryan at Kimpton. Good lighting can brighten a dark space or make an airy space feel cozy and comfortable. Like- wise, bad lighting can make dark and comfy spaces feel harsh and uninviting. "Sound matters too," adds Ryan, who suggests speakers substantially sized for the space as well as sound-dampening materials to absorb loud conversation. Controlling the Flow "Functionality ties into flow of the service personnel," says Plevrites. Bartenders have to be able to reach all parts of the bar easily, and there should be easy access to the floor for waitstaff as well as direct routes to the back of the house. "You don't want service people having to swim through a crowd with a bucket of ice." Moving the crowd through a space is also important. "No one wants to go out and spend an hour trying to get near the bar or waiting on a drink," notes Houston. The brothers designed Madame Siam's with a multitude of activities and areas to explore to better direct the crowd flow and keep everyone rotating as the night goes on. "We'll be there handing out game tokens to anyone who looks like they could use some inspiration, and we guarantee the last thing guests will be is bored." Encouraging Social Interaction "To encourage the crowd to mix, I use different levels of seating, high- and low-tops, standing areas, banquettes, and little nooks with sofas, armchairs and coffee tables," says Plevrites. Bartenders may favor a linear bar, but for socializing, many customers prefer the corners of a square bar or curves of a horseshoe bar. With these shapes, groups can more easily gather and converse. That's one reason McGee wanted to install a curved bar at The W Chicago. "The space was in an histori- cal atrium and perpendicular, rigorous in its architectural aesthetic, and I wanted to break that paradigm, so the bar has a strong curve at the end," she explains. The bar itself is dramatic. The front has underlit undulating metal that looks like a curtain, and the clear acrylic top is lit from underneath; the backbar is sculpted with chase lighting. Impact of Technology Beyond improvements in dispensing, refrigeration, blenders and more exotic equipment such as rotary evaporators and sous vide, technological innovation pervades all aspects of bar design — often in unexpected ways. Take the rise of smartphones, for example. "Instagram," says Plevrites. "People love to take pictures of cool places. So designers are challenged to be more innovative with every project they create." And customers these days demand charging stations for their devices. "We conceal the outlets under the bar and behind banquettes." "Customers are demanding Wi-Fi everywhere they go," reports Taylor, "and the signal has to be as strong in the rest- rooms as out in the bar." Care has to be taken not to cause interference between other wireless devices — POS systems, service personnel communication, and TV or music channels. "Bars of the future will solve or eliminate all cash-handling and finan- cial transactions," says Bortnick. "This is an area that is vital to ownership profitability but also to improved guest experience and throughput by eliminat- ing more steps and variables." + Mixed levels and types of seating encourage socializing at Charlotte's Speakeasy on Long Island. Image courtesy of Harriet Andronikides Photography

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