Restaurant Development & Design

March-April 2015

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

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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 • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 5 Hire a Designer BY AMANDA BALTAZAR, Contributing Editor H iring an outside designer for a new restaurant or renovation project is like a job interview and a date rolled into one. Past experience and expertise are paramount, but so are vision and overall chemistry between the hiring restaurant and the designer. Often, however, restaurants aren't especially prepared for the process of hiring a designer to bring their brands to life and create the type of guest experience they seek. That preparation has a lot to do with having a clear vision and being armed up-front with all of the information that a designer would need to be able to achieve the desired results. In order to give candidates the best direction and insights, restaurant clients need to be able to clearly express what they want, or what they want to change, and why, suggests Howland Blackiston, owner at King-Casey, a design and con- sulting frm in Westport, Conn. "Restaurants should know all the fundamentals like budget, location, spirit, atmosphere, what's unique about their restaurant, and what their brand stands for," adds Tom Mahaffey, design architect and senior project manager, Larson & Darby, Rockford, Ill. rd+d asked executives from three diverse restaurant concepts that work with outside designers — Sage Restaurant Group, Slim Chickens and Cinnabon — for their takes on the hiring process. Read on to learn what works for them. How To Sage Restaurant Group HQ: Denver 10 restaurants in 6 states Sage Restaurant Group's (SRG) opera- tions range from casual to upscale and the company brought in outside design- ers for each of them, though some de- signed multiple SRG restaurants. While many restaurant companies seek to work with well-known, proven restaurant designers, Sage, whose concepts have a reputation for their unique interiors, takes a different approach. The multi- concept operator looks instead for young, undiscovered design frms that don't have a lot of restaurant experience. "We don't want to hire who every- one else is hiring," says Peter Karpinski, Sage's COO and co-founder. "Younger frms have fresh thinking because they are not pigeonholed, don't have a tem- plated style and have a lot of fexibility. It's a trade-off because sometimes they don't have the maturity and the know- how of a more experienced frm." When looking for a new designer for a project, Karpinski interviews up to fve frms. "I have them walk us through who they are and what they do and the proj- ects they've done in the past," he says. He doesn't prepare much in advance for those initial meetings and doesn't expect the designers to, either. "I want to meet with people before I re- ally have a specifc project in mind," he says. "My decision-making is not crowd- ed, in that way. It's more important that we both resonate during this get-to- know-you, and the rest of it comes from there. I want to know if they'll be able to work with us when we have some

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