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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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 Y / J U N E 2 0 1 8 DETROIT'S NEW GRAND DAME U-shaped bar that serves to divide the room while keeping energy flowing be- tween its various areas. "We like to keep our restaurants small and packed, so the volume of the room was initially intimidating," Kitchen notes. "When you have a space this large, even if it's a quarter of the way full, it could feel empty. Part of our solu- tion was to put the bar in the middle, around the columns, and hit people with that heat and energy right when they come in. We also positioned coffee on the entry end of the bar and a communal table nearby. In the morning, there's coffee and pastries and this communal space where people can hang out, so there's always energy facing the front." Topped in walnut and clad in marble for a clean, simple look, the bar drops to dining height on the side clos- est to the restaurant, while the other, larger side is traditional bar height. That side opens to mixed lobby/lounge-style seating areas along the building's front. Above the bar hangs a signature lighting installation, designed and fabricated by Alex Porbe and his team at Detroit-based Incite Design. Next to updating the firehouse's original back- of-house kitchen and adding a front-of- house display kitchen, the fixture ranks among the project's largest creative investments. It features more than 500 individual bulbs in an abstract represen- tation of the streetlamps of Detroit. Many are lit, but those that are handblown glass aren't. "During the recession and bank- ruptcy, many streetlights in the city stayed dark because there was no money to replace burned-out bulbs. So we had this idea to pay tribute to those days," Deary says. "The fixture has an industrial look, but if you look closely, you see that the individual bulbs are very beautiful and the connections very engineered. It speaks to one of the big design concepts for the whole property, which was turning engi- neering and manufacturing into art. That's the soul of Detroit. It has always been a city of tinkerers, engineers and artists, so the design celebrates that culture." A second feature light installa- tion hangs from an archway above a banquette-lined alcove. Made from white fabric that's twisted and stretched over a metal framework, its smoke-like imagery pays homage to the building's origins. Custom, locally crafted furnishings in brown leather tones and gray fabrics; natural, live-edge wood tables; refur- bished salvaged metal ceiling tiles; and vintage carpets lend a lived-in, comfort- able feel to the space. And many design touches subtly evoke Motor City history. Leather banquettes, for instance, are channel backed to look and feel like vintage car seats. Custom downlight fix- tures over dining tables were inspired by the type of soft-turned, engineered wood seen in luxury cars. "We didn't want to be overt, but a lot of Detroit's engineering history is directly related to the automobile, so you see a lot of those influences in the furniture and finishes," Deary says. "We also brought in midcentury-modern furnishings because that really had a heyday in Detroit. But everything is simple, warm and elegant, not overly designed or stuffy. Detroit has a unique character and is a nostalgic city. You have to be very careful what you design there because there are a lot of people who are very close to the city and who have been there a long time. They want to make sure it is portrayed authenti- cally. If you don't, the locals will not go to your space." With the majority of customers on any given night being locals, with the property on track to hit year four of Apar- ium's pro forma in year one, and with its chef helping to put Detroit in the culinary spotlight, The Apparatus Room seems to have passed that crucial test. + Back of House Display Kitchen Private Dining Area Bar and Lounge Main Dining Area

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