Restaurant Development & Design


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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 • W I N T E R 2 0 1 4 right next door. As the corner space, Coppa Osteria would have great street-lev- el exposure and ample room for outdoor dining on two sides of the building. An added perk: Julie McGarr, the designer who worked with Clark Cooper on Coppa Ristorante as well as on the group's two other Houston operations, Ibiza and Brasserie 19, lives in the Rice Village neighborhood. Following a nearly four-month build- out, the 5,700-square-foot, 250-seat Coppa Osteria made its debut last Octo- ber. Although it's a brand new concept in a brand new building, it already feels as if it's been a long-standing fxture in the neighborhood, Cooper says. And that's exactly what the group wanted. Casual Comfort Created Starting from scratch, with no existing architectural elements to incorporate, was both a big opportunity and a big chal- lenge, according to McGarr. "It's always tough coming into a brand new building to be able to create an authentic type of character, which new buildings typically lack," she says. "When Grant and Charles secured the space it was literally just dirt. We were able to start fresh and create our own design elements, but we didn't want it to feel brand new. We wanted it to be comfortable." To that end, McGarr says, ceilings were kept a little bit lower and warmth was added to the space through rich col- ors and textures, custom lighting, plush carpeting and residential-style accesso- ries. "The best compliment I received in this whole process is that a lot of people have commented that they feel like they're having a great dinner party when dining at Coppa. They feel comfortable just hanging out here." Coppa Osteria's design positions the restaurant as a casual neighborhood Italian place but it's not meant to look like one in any traditional or expected sense, Cooper adds. While comfortable, the restaurant features a decidedly so- phisticated appearance, in part because of its positioning as an offshoot of the upscale Coppa Ristorante. "We took the color palette of Ristorante — the blues, yellows and greys — and made it more vibrant and playful at Osteria," he says. "They're like two different kids who share the same bloodlines." Bright peacock blue and canary yellow serve as primary accent colors throughout Coppa Osteria. A liberal use of rich natural tones, such as cream-colored tufted leather banquettes and darker charcoal greys and browns, tempers the use of the blue and yellow. All but one of the tabletops are natural maple butcher block. The exception: one large round in the center of the dining room, which has a more modern white top. That same aesthetic carries through in the molded Eames-style chairs sur- rounding a larger, higher wood table that sits in front of Osteria's expo kitchen to provide direct views of the gas-fred Neapolitan-style pizza oven and hot line. Like the white-topped table, those chairs are exceptions: the majority in the dining room are warm walnut accented with the restaurant's signature bright yellow. Those chairs, McGarr notes, were among the more expensive elements of the inte- rior décor but they were comfortable, ft The restaurant's jewel-tone teal blue carries through to the 20-seat bar area, where it is picked up both in the plush fabric covering the barstools and in the Baroque-style frame surrounding one of three giant mirrors that add life and depth to the space.

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