Restaurant Development & Design

JAN-FEB 2018

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 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 • J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 want to have destroyed. We wanted to help keep Atlanta the unique, wonderful place it is," says Monica Rivers. From Firehouse to Restaurant On top of its unique history, the firehouse is a unique space that presented some unusual design challenges. "The first time I heard [John Rivers] talk about a fire station, I was ecstatic," says Tan Vu, project manager for Orlan- do-based Interplan, which handled the architectural design for the operation. "I was just trying to figure out how to turn a two-story with basement, 100-year-old building into a modern-day restaurant. Obviously, it was very challenging know- ing that the mechanical, the electrical and the HVAC were not suited for a restaurant. Really, it was a complete gut job. I knew it was going to be challeng- ing but also exciting and rewarding." Vu, of course, was right about the project being a gut job. The existing electrical system, for instance, couldn't handle the load of a commercial restau- rant and kitchen. The designers had to replace the old electrical panels with restaurant-grade panels. Plumbing was another issue. The firehouse didn't have plumbing suf- ficient for a restaurant, nor did it have pipes running up to the second floor — a requirement for the operation's sprin- kler system, upstairs restrooms, soda fountain and kitchen equipment. Vu ended up creating a space in one of the restaurant's corners for a chase to run piping through. Those changes required plenty of elbow grease, but they were relatively straightforward. Other architectural de- sign elements posed bigger challenges. Take the roof-mounted equipment as an example. After ceiling demolition, the construction team found sagging roof trusses. Left unaddressed, these would have been a major hazard. "We actually had to do remediation of the trusses by scabbing on additional framing to rectify the sagging," says Vu. "It was a two-month ordeal in which a structural engineer and shoring company had to get involved. Everything was basically put on hold while lifting the existing roof trusses that had sagged over the 100-year life of the building." Another big challenge was tied to the restaurant's floor plan and seating re- quirements. The old firehouse has some unusual dimensions for a foodservice operation: The structure is only about 30 feet wide but has three levels adding up to just under 4,000 square feet. That makes it roughly 20 percent smaller than most 4 Rivers locations. At this size, this location has interior seating for only 100: 20 on the ground floor, which also houses the kitchen and ordering line, and 80 on the second floor, along with the pickup coun- ter for to-go orders. (The basement level is used exclusively for food storage.) On top of these interior seats, the location can accommodate an extra 70 guests with outdoor seating. While this additional capacity helps make the restaurant financially viable, it's also part of 4 Rivers' identity: Practically every store has an outdoor patio. This feature is a staple of barbecue joints in general, but it also supports 4 Rivers' goal of sup- porting community: Outdoor patios, says Monica Rivers, are places where people naturally gather. Adding outdoor seats was a chal- lenge for this location, though. While the building is set farther back than its neighboring structures, there's simply not enough room between the firehouse and the street for a large patio. In response, the designers built a small patio, along with a larger balcony above the patio. Accessible from the restaurant's second floor, this balcony serves as a special place for people to come together and enjoy their food. While adding the balcony itself was a bold step, it was made more challenging by restrictions placed on the design team by the landlord. Though the interior had to be gutted, the designers couldn't do anything that would permanently alter the building's exterior (with the important ex- ception of adding a door for the balcony). That meant the balcony itself couldn't be attached to the building for support. Vu and the engineer had to design the patio as a completely separate struc- ture from the building. "It's basically supported by four columns; there's actu- ally a little gap between the building and 4 RIVERS SMOKEHOUSE IS ON A MISSION The 100-year-old building required a gut rehab as mechanical and plumbing were insufficient on the second floor.

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