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 • 5 9 ceiling area on the interior. "It was a faux cupola," Hefty says. "You walked in, looked up and just saw this regu- lar ceiling. So we took all of that out and reframed the area with reclaimed timbers and opened up the cupola at the top. Now, it brings in nice natural light and the old timbers lend solid, au- thentic warmth. They look like they've been there forever. But the approach to creating a timeless look is really concept-specific," she adds. "Signature is not a trendy concept; it needed a classic look and feel. Even though it's new, we wanted the whole place to feel lived in and comfortable, like it's been there for a long time." Hefty stresses that while interpre- tations of and approaches to creating timelessness may vary from project to project, success always depends on materials selection. For Signature, that meant hand-troweled plaster, custom- fabricated steel doors and windows, zinc bar tops, and plenty of locally salvaged reclaimed wood and timber beams. "Reclaimed wood has been a bit overdone, but for this concept and this space, it was a natural choice," Hefty notes. "The wide flooring planks we used, as well as wood used on the ceil- ing, were salvaged from an old depart- ment store downtown, for instance. Those kinds of materials can make a big difference. When you use them in different and new ways, it's just hard for them to go out of style. They help create a kind of timeless backdrop against which you can then drop in statement pieces." For New Jersey-based designer Susan Pitaccio, president of Maxey Hayse Design Studios, restaurant designs that stand the test of time also begin with key foundational elements. And almost regardless of concept, she advocates keeping them classic. "To create timeless, you need fairly basic, traditional backbones," Pitaccio says. "Maybe a better way to put it is modern traditional because traditional evolves. What we may have looked at as traditional in 1980 is not exactly the same as traditional now. It streamlines it- self and catches up with the times. That's the case with all truly classic, timeless designs, from furniture to fashion. It needs to be concept-appropriate, but if your backbones are classic — walls, ceilings, window styles, exterior finishes, interior trim and moldings — you can work from there to blend in more trendy materials and pieces that create interest and give life to the concept." And, Pitaccio says, updating those classic backbone elements with modern approaches achieves timelessness while staving off stodginess. "We're seeing a lot of very classic, timeless looks right now, but the traditional dark wood base molding, crown molding and panel details may be painted white, for instance," she says. "They'll be a little more streamlined and not overly detailed, so it almost looks modern. There's more color and fun. And yes, you'll see distressed and reclaimed wood, but it's not so much the main focus any longer; it's an accent. The thing about the reclaimed piece is that it is, in a way, classic because it maybe came from an old barn and has a time- less style of its own. As trends go, it has proven to have much stronger staying power than we thought it might have." Durability Matters, Too Aesthetics are only half of the equation when working to create timeless restaurant designs. Durabil- ity is the other. Success in this regard depends heavily on researching the right finishes and furnishings that lend a timeless look and feel to a space and that are also built to with- stand the high-abuse restaurant envi- ronment. In projects with very limited budgets, that's a big challenge as clients often push to cut costs on critical elements such as chairs. "You have to have things that can take the abuse, so we do a lot of research up front and really stress the fact that it's worth it to invest in quality furnishings and hardware," Hefty says. "If you skimp on chairs, for instance, it's going to show really fast, and before long, you're going to be buying new chairs. And, where possible, we go with custom fabrication both for durability and to create a time- less look that's unique to the restaurant. When you just buy things off the shelf, you see them everywhere, and the styles change in a few years. The other option we like is to do some antique shopping. Usually, it's a mix of off-the-shelf, custom and older found objects that works to cre- ate a comfortable, lived-in look and feel that has longevity." Reclaimed wood has transcended fad status, in part because it brings a timeless style of its own to restaurant inte- riors. At Mr. Crabby's Seafood House & Sports Bar in Randolph, N.J., Maxey Hayse Design used a blend of natural reclaimed woods and wood-look veneers for a casual, beachy look and feel. Image courtesy of Erik Freeland

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