Restaurant Development & Design

July-August 2017

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 7 • 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 • 4 5 to design it first and then try to fit in all of those things. The key to success is to not fall in love with how it should look without first establishing how it needs to operate as a business." Designers really do have a lot of control over the number, type and sever- ity of barriers that staff members face just trying to do their jobs, Spaulding adds. Eliminating or reducing those requires a lot of discussion and modeling — in 3-D, even if it's just a wire-frame model — from a project's beginning to make sure the client knows exactly what they are getting and so that they have the opportunity to provide input at the right stages before things go too far. "If we create barriers, ultimately the quality and speed of service that restau- rant is equipped to provide suffer and so will its profitability," Spaulding says. And there is no set formula for getting it right. Every restaurant project is a from-scratch proposition: Each concept is its own animal, every owner brings in individual preferences, and every space presents unique opportuni- ties and challenges. That being said, both Spaulding and Geier agree that among the toughest "functional by design" challenges that restaurant designers consistently face is creating service areas that look great and enhance the ability of staff to do what they need to do — quietly, efficiently and with a minimum of frustration — during the course of a shift. "Designers often forget to incorpo- rate service stations on the floor or close by so servers have access to what they need and a place to put things," Geier says. "They put in chairs and tables and cram as many in as they can. They Designer/Owner: Andalé Management Group Highlight: Mezcal lockers When San Francisco-based Andalé Management Group (AMG) decided to launch a new concept in the city's Russian Hill neighborhood, they set out to celebrate mezcal, the traditional agave-based Mexican spirit, along with tequilas and a host of craft cocktails, wines and beers. A diverse menu of small plates featuring Oaxacan specialties provides sustenance, but Mezcalito caters especially to the cocktail crowd. The refurbished 2,200-square-foot space, which opened last September, has a variety of elevated seating styles and a casual, industrial-meets- contemporary, South-of-the-border style. According to AMG President Pedro Alvarez, it's designed to welcome, educate and nurture a whole new group of mezcal aficionados. To that end, a key design feature, and one that plays an integral branding role, is a set of 30 lockers built into the wall near the far end of the bar. Mezcalito promotes its locker program to regular customers, who are invited to purchase their own favorite bottles of mezcal and store them in a locker for their personal use. "The program gets people who either already love mezcal or who are just discovering it excited to buy a bottle, especially small-batch, craft mezcals, and keep it here," Alvarez says. "They get a key with a number on it that they just present to the server when they come in. We sell them the bottle but don't charge other fees for the program. And there are other perks that members of the locker program get, such as pri- ority seating if there's a waiting list and advance email notices of special tasting events." Most of Mezcalito's lockers are deep enough to hold multiple bottles and all are lit from be- neath, adding to the wall's design impact. "This was another way of generating interest in our brand, and the lockers are just visually interest- ing," Alvarez adds. "Customers ask questions about them, which gives servers an opportunity to promote the program and talk about our mezcal expertise." Mezcalito, San Francisco Photos courtesy of Andalé Management Group

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