Restaurant Development & Design

NOV-DEC 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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8 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 • N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 MCALISTER'S RETURNS TO ITS ROOTS "Sweet Tea is Like a Warm Hug"). The company now asks crewmembers to wear a nametag as well. "If we truly want to create guest connections, then we want them to be able to quickly identify who works there," Dimson says. "We just want to make sure we're doing everything we can to bridge that gap." Then, of course, there's the res- taurant design. It's here that everything comes together, from McAlister's desire to better leverage technology to its re- sponse to the off-premise dining trend to providing a comfortable, friendly space where people can gather for good food and good company. Smaller, More Local McAlister's displays the company's com- munity focus on the exterior of its build- ings. People glancing at the building might not catch it, but the chain's new logo and signage contains the McAlister's Deli name (with the "Deli" framed by the M and S in McAlister's) in a rectangular container. This container, says Dimson, represents the new design's featured community table and, more broadly, McAlister's community focus as a whole. Other symbols of the chain's com- mitment to the places where it operates are not so much Easter Eggs as they are part of a community-centric aesthetic. Take the building's facade, for instance. Made of a composite material designed to look like bricks, this aesthetic is part of what the company calls its "modern Main Street," approach, says Justin Krivanek, McAlister's director of brand activation. "We started thinking about some of these small towns that we're already a part of ... where you have this Main Street. So many are being revitalized at this point in time. It's this idea of contemporizing something that has been somewhat aged but feels genuine and authentic," Krivanek says. The exterior of this ‹rst restaurant also nods to McAlister's history. The ‹rst McAlister's, opened in Oxford, Miss., started in an old service station with two garage doors. This restaurant includes a patio that connects to the interior through a pair of garage doors. This not only acknowledges the chain's roots but it also brings in natural light to the space. The patio makes a nice addition and helps offset some seats lost to a smaller interior. It's not required for every new store, however. "We want to be realis- tic with the design itself separate from the patio. We need to make sure that ultimately it works, since we know that we can't get a patio at every location," says Krivanek. While the smaller footprint serves as Dining"SFB Restrooms Refrigeration Kitchen Patio 0SEFSJOH$PVOUFS Entry The chain's new ordering counter includes a counter face clad in a blue-gray tile that elevates the space as well as glass panels with brand messages.

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