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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5 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 FIREBIRDS IMAGINES THE MODERN STEAKHOUSE The restaurant's main entrance is on the side of the building, relative to the street. Guests walk into a vestibule and then enter the Firebar bar and lounge, a fun, high-energy space where they can grab a drink and a bite to eat. One of the first things guests see when they come into the Firebar is the barback display: an underlit collection of liquor bottles arranged by color. These sit on acrylic shelves of varying depths, creating a cascading, waterfall-like effect. This liquor display is a holdover from the previous design. Other elements of the bar changed, however, and are meant to express the restaurant's fire theme. The bar top is a sealed, charred fir; the front is made with a textured, slightly irregular glazed tile with linear glass tile accents running vertically, expressing the movement of flames, Wil- liams says. The fire theme goes from suggested to explicit with the bar's fireplace — a gas unit with wood for the restaurant's wood-fired grill stored below. In the pre- vious prototype, the fireplace separated the bar from the dining area to the left. Now, it sits against an outer wall and, with openings on both sides, serves both the bar and the patio. While this shift upgrades the patio experience, that wasn't the main reason for the move. "Before, [the fireplace] served as a divider between the bar and the dining room. There was not a clear connection between them. We wanted it to feel like one unified space, so we moved that fireplace element to the exte- rior of the building," Williams says. While the designers were after more connection between the two spaces, they didn't want the restaurant to feel like a box. To distinguish the bar from the dining area, the new design makes use of a ban- quette against a metal divider wall with a chevron-like pattern cut into it. Other seat- ing options in the bar include high tops with backless stools (that make gathering around the tables easier) as well as stools (with backs) at the bar itself. Notably, the tables at the new Firebirds aren't made from hardwood but from a light-colored solid-surface material that helps create a more casual atmosphere, says Williams. "We went away from their typical granite and wood tabletops and used a lighter tabletop just to create a few more pops of light throughout the space. Once again, we were trying to get away from the dark feel of a steakhouse. Playing with con- trast is something we were working on with this restaurant." The restaurant's dining room sits to the left of the bar in the new prototype. While the bar has its fireplace, on the exact opposite side of the prototype is the semi- open kitchen, where a window provides guests with a partial view of the action. "We created an intentional view into the kitchen rather than just opening it up," Williams says. "This intentional view allows you to just see the fire grill and the people Snapshot Headquarters: Charlotte, N.C. Concept owner: Privately held Concept: Polished-Casual restaurant specializing in steaks and seafood cooked on a wood-fired grill in a display kitchen Location: New prototype launched in Jacksonville, Fla., in November 2018 Units: 45 Size: 6,355 square feet Real estate: Freestanding, endcap and in-line Design highlights: Display kitchen highlighting the wood-fired grill; two- sided fireplace connecting the bar to the patio, large windows offering passersby a view of the restaurant's interior activity Build-out time: Design concept was chosen approximately 18 months ago; construction was completed fall 2017 The main dining room includes a center server station, eliminating the number of steps it takes to serve guests while allowing the chain to display its new sparkling water offering.

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