Restaurant Development & Design

FALL 2014

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

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4 0 • 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 • F A L L 2 0 1 4 to express through special menus and unique experiences." Private dining can also be a great way to use an otherwise unappealing spot in a very proftable way, and a way to use the entire square footage of a restaurant wisely. For example, "a logical private dining room is the wine room, which is usually a dark and separate place nobody wants to sit in," says Wolf. "With some strategic lighting and decor, suddenly the space becomes incredibly attractive." Technology, music and lighting, of course, are important elements of private dining. While separately controlled music and lighting can create different moods for different events, A/V equipment and fat-screens with laptop and tablet hookups are essential for corporate patrons. Here's a look at some great private dining rooms doing brisk business across the country, each with its own unique, strategically designed and well-equipped space, from a Southern-style collection of storytelling rooms to an intimate dining area right off the edge of a working farm. HARRY CARAY'S 7TH INNING STRETCH Chicago Spanning 23,000 square feet on the seventh foor of Chicago's Water Tower Place, the newest location in the Harry Caray's franchise, Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch and Chicago Sports Museum, opened in late spring. The operation includes a museum-affliated banquet space that can seat up to 240 for private events, as well as a highly proftable smaller private dining room within the 15,000-square-foot 7th Inning Stretch restaurant and bar. Located off the main dining room, this 24-seat, 420-square-foot space can be closed off via wooden blinds attached to the windows or opened up for views out toward the main dining room and the John Hancock building and Magnifcent Mile beyond. It's a popular venue for smaller dinner parties, corpo- rate events, business meetings, sports-viewing parties and other social gatherings. "The private dining room was designed to allow guests to experience the same sweeping panoramic views offered by the main dining room," says Katherine Ingrassia, owner of Ingrassia Design, whose team designed the space. "With private din- ing, you don't want people to feel like they're not a part of the scene. We also kept the materials the same as the main dining room to make the entire space more homogenous." Branding and storytelling are important functions of a private dining room. One of the design themes throughout Harry Caray's is dark wooden walls, both inside and outside the private dining room, that feature display cases with sports memorabilia, articles chronicling the legendary sportscaster's career, photographs, signed balls and other collectibles. While the main dining room's ceiling was left in its "raw" state, exposing pipes and ductwork to help create a refned industrial, subway station–inspired look, the private dining room has a separate ceiling. Its tiles consist of fbrous mate- rial resembling crushed spaghetti, which provides maximum sound absorption, according to Ingrassia. And while mirroring the overall design theme of the restaurant, the space has a slightly more polished look because of additional millwork and wall sconces. The restaurant can open or completely close the room's doors to suit each group's needs. "We worked hand in hand with the design and architectural team [Barker Nestor Inc.] to give diners the feeling like they're a part of the restaurant, but have the option to have a truly private event," says Chuck Taylor, director of operations for Lombard, Ill.-based Englewood Construction, which handled the interior build-out. In addition, the private dining room can serve as overfow seating for the main dining room in the event of cancellations or no bookings. Top: The private dining room at the new Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch in Chicago is consistent in design with the main dining room, but additional millwork and wall sconces give it a more polished look. Doors and blinds can be opened or closed as desired for greater or less privacy. Below: Set within Restaurant R'evolution's 12,000-bottle wine cellar, the Wine Room offers a unique private dining experience. It's equipped with a drop-down fat- screen TV and has its own private street entrance.

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