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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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 Y / J U N E 2 0 1 8 keep concepts and designs more timeless. A related driver right now is just the whole issue of rising costs. It's getting so astro- nomical to build anything and so many projects are underfunded, especially start- ups. Clients are often completely surprised at how much it costs to try to get done what they want to get done, so we spend a lot of time educating them. So, there's this timelessness and longevity that everyone's striving for but a lack of understanding of what it costs to achieve it. Calder Smith: Cost is a huge issue right now. It isn't really about aesthet- ics, but the trend toward lower-priced concepts with less risk and lower opening costs is still going strong. From a design perspective, that typically means a more casual look and feel; compact, hyper- functional spaces; and strong branding to carry the concept over multiple units. The other, more general thing is that the bar for restaurants just keeps being raised. It's an intensely competitive and tough busi- ness. Costs are higher all the way around, but so is scrutiny from sophisticated, social-media-savvy consumers. Ultimately, it's all good, though, because it makes us do really good work. Plecha: We continue to see the need to maximize seating and create flexible spaces that can accommodate large parties and events. We're seeing more concepts popping up that aren't even run as restau- rants, per se, but solely as event spaces. And even in traditional restaurants, flexible seating and integrated wall panel systems that can section spaces off are becoming more important. We're also seeing a big move toward furniture pieces and case goods that are more stylized and with more of a residential feeling. Clients are tired of seeing the same old restaurant chairs and tables and spaces. They're looking for something a little more custom, more unique to their space and their concept. For us, that means a lot of research up front to find or design unique items that are readily available and/or fit into their budget. Valverde: Everyone is now sharing their experiences through Instagram, Snapchat, etc. How that all plays out can have a tremendous impact on a client's business, and it impacts how we need to think about design. We're no longer design- ing just for environmental interaction but for social media interaction as well. The second big trend is that clients want to get more out of their spaces by creating mul- tiple concepts or experiences in a single location. They're paying rent every day, all day, so it makes sense. For example, they might have a coffee shop/cafe operating in front from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and then a bar component in the back that operates from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. It's a plus for real estate developers, too, because you're knocking out two concepts in one. What impact is technology having on your restaurant projects today? Plecha: This falls into major trend terri- tory as well, but there's a huge uptick in mobile order apps at QSR and fast-casual restaurants, and as a result, we're begin- ning to design more mobile order pickup areas. We're always thinking about how customers will travel through a space, but that's now changing. Some still come in and order and eat on-site, but a growing number place orders online or via mobile app and just stop in to pick up their food and go. So it's thinking about how to orga- nize the adjacencies and where everything belongs, how big the pickup area needs to Advice to clients: Be up-front about your budget. It's far more efficient to create a design for an appropriate budget than to value engineer a design after the fact. Understand the design and documenta- tion phases of a project, and be aware of the inefficiencies and extra design cost implications of making changes after prior approvals. One big challenge: Everyone wants chairs and stools that are unique, comfortable, affordable, durable and readily available. It's rare that we're able to hit all five of those wants on any given project. Top-of-mind materials: I'm currently obsessed with decorative acoustical panels and LED rope lighting. If I opened my own restaurant: I'd create a very Zen sushi restaurant for 20 guests, max, with plenty of seats at the counter. Who would you choose to design it? Yuko Kagawa. I love her design of Kai Zan restaurant in Chicago. Elizabeth Plecha, Senior Interior Designer Aria Group Architects, Inc., Oak Park, Ill. QSR and fast-casual chains such as Roti are using more natural materials in their designs. Image courtesy of Emilia Czader

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