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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with counter seating for up to 16, fanks the interior side of the room, and a row of freestanding tables runs in between. Patterned ceramic tile covers the foors, and fnishes featuring warm woods, leather, iron and glass combine to create an aesthetic described by Bernerd as informal luxury and industrial chic. About the overall design vision, she says, "I'd sum it up as sort of a picture of an old movie star with a cigarette holder in ebony and ivory. I wanted to take that 1940s elegance and turn it into an industrial chic language and also to pay homage to Chicago's Frank Lloyd Wright, with his dedication to detailing. So it's very much about that informal luxury and industrial chic, but still something that could be a handsome home." That aesthetic begins in the hotel lobby and concierge areas, marked by comfortable lounge furniture, bookcases and a freplace, and then fows into Salone Nico. Design highlights here include a large, U-shaped bar clad in green-gold ribbed metal, custom bar stools and polished concrete foors trimmed in tile and covered in seating areas with plush patterned rugs. Lounge furniture is fnished in burgundy and khaki velvet while banquettes, also velvet, pick up the green-gold shade of the bar's base. Living "green walls" take advantage of the natural light in the atrium, adding fresh color and texture, and natural brick detailed with polished black corners car- ries the industrial-chic look through. A transition space between Salone Nico and Nico Osteria's main dining room holds booths covered in the same velvet as the lounge banquettes and a large, wooden, custom-made communal table. "It all fows together. The lounge/ bar, with the khaki and burgundy velvet, and the fooring of the restaurant and the colors and the materials chosen," Bernerd says. "They're not 'matchy-matchy' rooms; but they certainly integrate, and there's a defnite language." Dual-Kitchen Challenge Nico Osteria's gleaming display kitchen is the centerpiece of the dining room. Everything here happens in full view and the small army of bicycle-hatted chefs working behind the counter, most stationed close enough to interact with guests seated there, adds to the ambiance. The roughly 600-square-foot display kitchen turns out half of the restau- rant's menu items — crudo, antipasti and fettunta (rustic grilled bread with a selection of toppings), according to Madia. The balance, including pasta dishes and other main courses, comes from the "bottom of the house." During the property's renovation, the lower-level hotel parking garage was transformed into a 4,000-square-foot production/ support kitchen, chef's offce, and dish washing and storage areas. Foodservice consultancy Next Step Design was brought in to assist with layout and equipping of both kitchens, as well as Nico's bar operations. Project manager Stuart Davis says the basement conversion was tricky. "To get an exhaust system down there was interesting," he says. "We had it custom-engineered to work with a super-low ceiling height. There's some substantial cooking going on in that space — prep to support the display kitchen, but the main hot cook- ing line and dessert production areas are also there, and that kitchen also handles room service. In addition to the exhaust system, we had to cram all of the 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 • F A L L 2 0 1 4 Project Team • Owner: AJ Capital Partners • Operators: One Off Hospitality Group (Paul Kahan, Donald Madia, Terry Alexander and Kimberly Galban) • Interior Design: Tara Bernerd & Partners (Tara Bernerd and Tommy Gymnander) • Architect: Hartshorne Plunkard Ltd., Andrew Shimanski • Foodservice Consultant: Next Step Design, Stuart Davis • Owner's Construction Project Manager: Daccord LLC, Len Skiba • Engineer: WMA Consulting Engineers Ltd., Michael Merel, PE • General Contractor: Power Construction Company LLC, Michael Conlon Snapshot • Location: Thompson Chicago hotel • Concept: Italian seafood, small plates • Opened: November 2013 • No. of seats: 192 (112 inside, 80 sidewalk café) • Design highlights: Integrated fow, industrial-chic fnishes, residential- inspired furnishings, display kitchen with counter seating, ribbed metal-clad bar, living walls, patterned ceramic tile and polished concrete fooring • Build-out: 20 to 22 months A transition space between Salone Nico and Nico Osteria's main dining room features a large, wooden, custom-made communal table.

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