Restaurant Development & Design

JUL-AUG 2019

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

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J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9 • 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 • 6 3 via hardwood tables, chairs and booths. Balancing out these warm, natural sur- faces are some harder materials, includ- ing steel cages where cans of sauce and other ingredients are on display, as well as exposed ductwork. Additional edge is created through the restaurant's hand- painted mural wall proclaiming "Pizza to the People." Sitting against this mural are the dining room's booths, which are among the restaurant's most prized spots. Rotolo's has gone to great lengths to make them more appealing to families, and really all parties. The booths sit on a small step up, and each has a hanging pendant light just overhead. These touches, DeBosier says, serve as visual and mental cues of separation, that the booth is the party's own space where they're welcome to linger for as long as they like. That lingering is further encouraged by the small €at-screen television at each booth. These allow guests to watch a game or show comfortably, without craning their necks. The TVs can be turned to any channel the guest wants. "Screens can show cartoons for the kids or games for adults," says DeBosier. "It's another piece of the puzzle that says it's okay to stay here and hang out. We have every- thing you need." While booths may hold a particular appeal to families, the dining area also has a separate community table sec- tion. This space is slightly offset from the rest of the dining area. That, along with the use of high-top tables, sets the space apart, making it a good spot for larger groups that might get a little louder than normal. The …nal seating area is an indoor/ outdoor space with large bifold doors. Located at the front of the restaurant, this space takes the place of a tradi- tional patio, which would be of limited use given the heat and frequent rain in Southern Louisiana. "It's really a favorite place for people to sit," says Bourg. "It's so inviting because when you drive in from the street and you're in a parking lot, you can instantly see people gathered. People want to be where people are." Design Deviations Rotolo's has built …ve restaurants I'd change to: based on its now two-year-old prototype: four new and one refurbished. Naturally, they've instituted some changes taken from real-world lessons. On the most obvious front, Rotolo's went through some standard post-pro- totype value engineering. For example, an expensive interior brick that was speci…ed in the original design ended up covered by a mural. Because the mural (and not the bricks) are the focus of that space, subsequent stores use a cheaper brick material for that wall. Other changes were more substantial. The curved bar's centuries-old cypress countertop is one of the most impres- sive elements in Rotolo's prototype restaurant in Baton Rouge. It's also practically impossible to recreate. After all, 500-year-old cypress stumps are not plentiful, and those that are available are prohibitively expensive. While this could have been a hitch in the rollout of new stores, the team has turned it into a strength by using a local- ized element instead. For instance, one of the new Craft & Crust restaurants opened last summer in Frisco, Texas, a booming Dallas suburb that got its start as a railroad town. "There's a lot of [Frisco's] history tied to the railroad, so we went and sourced old railcar €oors and had those reengineered close to the same color. That history and a piece of the local town are in the store," says Bourg. Notably, the chain can also be €exible on the shape of the bar itself, Bourg adds. While ground-up builds are designed with the curved bar found in the prototype, if the chain is moving into space previously occupied by another concept, it will use the existing infra- structure and accept a straight bar. Another bar-area change involved operations. In the prototype, bottled beer was held in an ice trough, just like at the …rst Rotolo's restaurant. If a customer ordered a bottle, they'd get one cold, straight from the trough. While the experience was good, the trough just took up too much space, says Bourg. In response, the chain got rid of the trough and reduced its bottled beer offerings, which are now stored in under- counter refrigeration. Additional saved space was dedicated to new dishwash- Guests entering the new Rotolo's Craft & Crust restaurants get a clear view of the layout, letting them quickly decide which area best ts the experience they want.

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