Food, Form & Function: How to Craft Stand-Out Design in a Booming Restaurant Industry
In the last decade, Denver has become a boomtown—strewn with bustling restaurants, award-winning breweries and plush lounges. 2018 brought more than 230 new restaurants, bars and coffee shops to the Denver metro area. But, in the same year, nearly 100 closed their doors. In this increasingly competitive market, everything matters: food, drink, service and space. So how do you create an environment that works?
Our Head of Interior Design, Kristen Tonsager, speaks to designing for the service industry and how to create authentic spaces that function as well as they feel.
The brand story of Wild Blue Yonder nods to owners’ shared background in the Air Force. Subtle details in the architecture and interior design of the space invite conversation and provide a direct connection between guests’ experience and owners’ vision.
Touchstone: Brand Story
With restaurant design, it’s particularly important that the architectural elements align with the brand story. This cohesion creates authenticity and a sense of place.
Whether clients come to us with a well-developed brand story or we go on that journey with them, we’ve learned that meaningful design requires clarity of vision. Once defined, this vision can be realized throughout the space—in both literal and abstract ways. Restaurant projects often hold the dreams and ambitions of our clients. It’s a very personal experience to see their vision come to life.
By centralizing the primary kitchen at Tribe Market, we streamlined restaurant cooking operations while inviting intimate guest interactions with various open air food stalls surrounding the core area.
In space planning, the focus is always on function first. We have to understand the equipment and adjacencies required to accommodate the primary functions of the space: cooking, brewing, serving, bartending, etc. It’s easy to get caught up on the public side but efficiency is what makes a space successful and allows for exceptional service experiences.
The primary seating area at Wild Blue Yonder stretches between bar and brewery operations so guests are continually invited to interact with both.
Elevated service industry design involves thinking through not only how but also how much interaction occurs between guests and primary service functions. In Denver, we’ve seen an increased openness in guest services: open kitchens, brewery tours, tableside service, extravagant cocktail prep. But this visibility isn’t right for every concept. We work closely with clients to create thoughtful service interactions tailored to their clientele, staff and brand story.
We also used decorative lighting fixtures to create various zones or vignettes throughout the space. From a distance, all fixtures play into the cohesive brand story, but take a closer look and you’ll notice that each zone offers a unique character and guest experience.
Much of the brand story is revealed in the details of a service industry design—palette, lighting, furniture, texture. Yes, it’s important to select durable, cleanable, abrasion-resistant materials. But it’s equally important to consider what emotions are evoked, and whether or not those emotions fit the character of the design.