Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 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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M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 8 • 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 • 1 9 "clearance test" in which they might be asked to do silly things or answer funny questions. Once passed, Miss M turns a bust of David Baldwin (with eyes that scan you as you walk by), which leads guests to a secret, quilted door. Downstairs, everyone is in character, of course, with the hosts clapping as you walk in since all the clearance tests are broadcast live on a digital screen behind the main bar. Inside, after an initial greeting by the hosts, who ask, "What is your mission?" (Answer: lunch, cocktails, or dinner), guests can go on a self-guided tour of the multidimensional space, which features two bars (one that's used for semiprivate events), a main dining room, and even an interactive bathroom decked out in authentic spy collectibles, such as secret maps from movies, a real Order of Lenin medal given by the Kremlin to spies, and more. The "Spybrary" features some lounge seating and a replica of the Berlin Wall with bookshelves containing actual pieces of the wall. There are even interactive elements at the tables themselves. When guests sit down, they're given an agent nametag to come up with their own fake names (or they can use the SafeHouse mobile app to help them figure one out). An old spy plane fuselage was converted into a row of banquettes, and at the "Get Smart" booth, guests can pull a fogged-up dome down over the booth to have a more private conversation, just like in the movie. At the Chicago location, a magician roams around for on-the-spot entertainment, while at the Milwaukee location, magic is a built-in part of the bartender's duties. In the main dining room, there's also a control panel that will set off a "nuclear explosion" by pressing one of the but- tons and a monitor showing footage of drones from all over the world. The comfort-driven food also comes on interactive plates, with servers "fly- ing" them through the dining room and adding sparklers to big appetizers. The burger has been named Best Burger in Chicago by Chicago magazine, and, like the food dishes, creative cocktails are named after famous spy movie quotes. Of course, even the exit is thought out. "Every good spy doesn't leave the same way he or she came in," says Williams-Smith. While there is a traditional exit, there's also a secret one set up in a phone booth where guests can pay a dollar, pick up the phone when it rings, and then navigate through a laser light maze set in a dark, foggy tunnel leading upstairs to street level. There are even rows of badges that were left by guests upon their exit — something that happened organi- cally, Williams-Smith says. The bathrooms at both SafeHouse locations have earned awards for inven- tiveness. In the ladies' room, there's a humorous photo of Daniel Craig, who played James Bond, seductively washing his hands with a leaf covering his more private parts that will actually sound an air blast throughout the whole restaurant if touched. In the men's room, a loud siren that says "package accepted" will also go off throughout the restaurant when the stall is used. The unisex bathroom door is see- through until you flip the lock when you enter, which fogs up the door. "The important thing about all this is that people get to laugh at them- selves and really play within the space," says Daurio. "There are 54 different experiences, all within one place." Punch Bowl Social Locations: 12 Experience: Social gaming and dining Veteran restaurateur Robert Thompson has struck a chord with his Punch Bowl Social outposts around the country. With lines out the door when the first location opened in 2012 in Denver's historic Baker neighborhood, he has since brought two designers on board and expanded his team to develop and open more Punch Bowl Socials else- where in Denver as well as in Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago and more. There are Punch Bowl Social offers drinking, dining and a variety of games across roughly 24,000 square feet at each of the growing chain's 12 locations. Images courtesy of Amber Boutwell

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