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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7 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 • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 Form + Function Restroom Design BY VALERIE KILLIFER W hen it comes to restaurant design, bathrooms have long been overlooked. But with an ever-increasing focus on the overall experience, customers and operators are viewing restaurant restrooms as the next wave of creative expression. "I am that person who, whenever I go into a restaurant, I have to check out the bathroom," says Traci Weems, an associate with GTM Architects. "They can be a consideration in today's restaurant environment, and this comes into play when the owner realizes it's another opportunity to express design intent for the restaurant." Restaurant guests today are looking for a holistic brand experience, and that extends into the restroom, Weems says. So, operators should use design elements that extend the brand's mes- saging into spaces other than the dining room. "Some operators come to us al- ready with that thought and most of the time are open to putting some financial effort into the restroom," she says. While it's true that restaurant re- strooms have historically been a design afterthought — either due to lack of financial resources or interest — the landscape and desire to invest has shifted in recent years. "We are seeing a higher emphasis being put on the total experience, and today we're seeing brands, whether quick service or a concept restaurant, put more care and selection into the design of those spaces," says Rob Depp, senior vice president, princi- pal, at FRCH Design Worldwide. "We have found that restrooms can reflect, positively or negatively, on the experi- ence of the restaurant visit. It really is reflective of the care and consideration of the brand aspects of their offering. If a restaurant is family oriented but the bathroom has the appearance of being dirty or unkempt, it can damage the overall impression of the restaurant." So, what should operators consider when looking to design — or simply refresh — a restroom experience? "It all starts with the ability to create a clean and safe environment, especially when talking about family restrooms," Depp says. "We're talking about accessibility in terms of capac- ity and locations within the space, and then we support that with a selection Two years ago Dallas-based Cowboy Chicken went through an extensive rebranding process, looking at every single aspect of the brand, including both the in-store and digital experience. Images courtesy of GTM Architects

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