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 • 3 7 be and how it should be organized to serve all guests well. Also, USB ports for mobile charging have become a necessity. We use a lot of outlet/USB port strips that run along the entire underside of a counter- top, for example, so that no matter where you're sitting, you can plug in. And we're hiding outlets in booths, banquettes and even chairs. I imagine we'll be switching to charging pads in tabletops and counter- tops soon. We're also incorporating new cooking technologies, such as grills that don't require hoods or black iron. People love to see their food being prepared, and that whole show of the kitchen is important. Ventless equipment helps us bring it up front and out from under the hood. Hapstak: The whole mobile app phenomenon is definitely huge. We're watching clients develop these very sophisticated apps enabling customers to just walk in, pick up their orders and go. For one client, we're now working on what's going to be known as a "fly through," and it's where everyone in the QSR category is headed. You order on an app ahead of time, pull up to a designated window and pick up your food. We also see clients getting very sophisticated with data — pulling all manner of customer preference, traffic and flow information. CAVA, a Mediterranean fast casual that we work with, is leading the way on this, and what the data is telling them directly impacts how we design their spaces, with grab-and-go from mobile ordering getting bigger and bigger. The big brands, like Domino's, are all over this, too, but we're waiting to see the development of better solutions for brands that don't have the resources or technical sophistication of a Domino's or CAVA. Valverde: With trends heading so sharply toward mobile orders and delivery, we need to make sure that our layouts and designs enable clients to compete. Even if it's a 5 percent or 10 percent increase in their daily sell, that's huge for a restaurant. We had a client that is one of the biggest Uber Eats clients in the city. When design- ing a new unit for them, they had us dedicate a full area for drivers to park and drive up to a window to pick up orders for delivery because that's become such a big part of their business. Calder Smith: Acoustics and LED lighting are among the biggest areas of technology-driven change. LEDs are just getting better and better, with greater control and color rendition. And sometimes it's about bringing different technologies, such as solar panels, into a project. I think most nice, full-service restaurants are still a ways away from implementing many customer-facing technologies. They're efficient, but as they're packaged and presented today, they kind of kill the experience. Where do you see the biggest improvements and/or opportunities for concept or design innovation in the chain restaurant segment? Hapstak: We're trying to steer clients away from the fast-casual buffet-line-style prototype and toward a more holistic way of thinking about their concepts. You can only do so many point-and-pick order lines, and you can use as many cast-iron pots and stainless hotel pans as you want, but at a certain point, you lose the soul of it. So we're pushing a lot of ideas about what a real kitchen feels like because we think that's what customers warm up to. What's that experience? How does it work, and how does it feel? We're also urging Advice to clients: Allow enough time. Working in emergency mode isn't good for projects. Embrace collaboration. Designers aren't just a cost; we bring tangible value to your project. Don't just hire a good de- signer; find the right one for your concept. One big challenge: Clients want bespoke furnishings, but most manufacturers are too production-oriented to be willing or able to do that at a reasonable cost. Top-of-mind materials: LED lighting and faux finishes. Some of the faux finishes, like porcelain tile that looks like wood, are now so realistic. They're less expensive, super durable and never need refinishing. It's hard to say no to that stuff. If I opened my own restaurant: It would be something with seafood and have a casual, Northern California vibe with a residential feel. I especially love clams… and avocados. Maybe it would be an avocado clam bar. Who would you choose to design it? Le Corbusier is my favorite architect, but I'm not sure he'd design a cool restaurant. Maybe Richard Neutra, an Austrian-Amer- ican architect who lived in L.A. and did beautiful midcentury-modern homes. Cass Calder Smith, Founding Principal CCS Architecture, San Francisco and New York Covina, located inside the Park South Hotel in New York City. Image courtesy of CCS.

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