Restaurant Development & Design

MAR-APR 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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3 6 • 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 8 ONCE UPON A RESTAURANT fixtures for the dining room and some- how that question led to these massive gold domes, which are also a nod to the championship trophy. So there was conceptual inspiration for them, which fits the story, but also a practical side because they help to bring the scale of the room down and provide intimacy." MacEwen adds that just as in any good book, script or theater projection, telling a restaurant's story through design requires judicious editing. It's a winnowing and sifting process, starting with many, many ideas gathered through collaboration with the design team, the owner, the chef and/or other key partners to get down to the strongest elements to tell the story. "There's a lot of editing that takes place," MacEwen says. "A lot of ideas inspire you and get you to a certain point but may not ultimately make it through the process. We have to choreograph how all of the pieces come together, and sometimes the result is stronger when you take something away. Good design should have more of an emotional impact, or it just becomes a memorabilia warehouse." Characters, Vision and Setting Matter Phanie Gapinski, director of interior design at Reston, Va.-based Architecture Incorporated, agrees that a layered appli- cation of design elements, some overt but most subtle, creates the most powerful narrative. And while some of the subtler, carefully thought-out design elements might seem arcane, they're integral to smart design and great storytelling. Gapinski and her team have designed more than a dozen Mellow Mushroom units over the past couple of years, each one telling the brand's free- wheeling, hippie-culture story while at the same time conveying the individual owner's vision for his or her business. The 150-plus-unit pizza chain, founded in Atlanta in 1974, gives its franchisees a lot of latitude in how they choose to tell their own story. While a few branding and layout elements are consistent from unit to unit, each has a completely distinct narrative that's played out through design. Gapinski says her process begins with storytelling fundamentals: focusing on the characters involved, what inspires them and what location-based elements can be woven in to tell a story that re- flects the culture of the local community. "Each project starts with sitting down with the owner and trying to get at a particular theme or direction that he or she wants to go," she says. "Some have a pretty clear idea right away, and others need help to figure out what it could be. But in every case and no matter what the storyline ends up being, we try to pull on the history, aesthetics and vernacular of the area to help bring it to life. Weaving the 'where' can be really important to making a con- nection with the local community." At the Mellow Mushroom unit in Chantilly, Va., for instance, the owner wanted to build the restaurant's theme around the concept of flight. He grew up near Dulles Airport and remembers seeing the Concorde fly overhead as a kid. Pro- viding stronger local contextual support, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center National Air and Space Museum, whose exhib- its include a Concorde and the Space Shuttle Discovery, is located nearby. "This client had always been fascinat- ed with flight, so we went with the history of flight for the design narrative," Gapinski says. "But we didn't want it to be too literal and just put airplanes everywhere." Instead, Gapinski focused on tell- ing the story of flight in part through materials selection. Concrete flooring is the same as that used at Dulles Airport; old propellers add interest in a ceiling treatment; wood used on the interior alludes to the Spruce Goose, the massive airplane built entirely of wood during World War II; leather seating hearkens the iconic leather jacket and helmet Large dome lights in Michael Jordan's Restaurant's main dining room were inspired by the designer's idea of cutting a basketball in half. Image courtesy of DMAC Architecture Decorative screens and a half wall separating the Michael Jordan's Restaurant entry area from bar tables subtly evoke basketball skin and ghosted net designs. Image courtesy of DMAC Architecture

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