salare mood board by Claire Grotz

Mood Board Monday features the design process for Salare Restaurant. The industrial chic look is portrayed through the mood board.  It also offers a welcoming atmosphere that is as comfortable for couples as it is for families. Take a look at the completed Salare project on our website to see how the design development evolved. Happy Mood Board Monday!

sign of the times by Unknown

Recently, we've been doing some research on coffee shop signage for Caffe Ladro and we came across some really awesome designs we couldn't help but share. Exterior signage not only announces the name of the coffee shop but the initial impression from the sign can also play an important role in shaping the overall experience for the consumer so it is a crucial part of the design process! Effectively designed signage can capture the culture and atmosphere of a coffee shop, attracting customers to the shop. Check out some of the signs we loved.

Too see images like this and everything else that inspires us, check out our Pinterest page, here! Also, congratulations to Caffe Ladro for their grand opening this week!  Make sure to stop by (400 Fairview).

Reduce, Reuse, RECLAIM by Unknown

One of our favorite things is to find reclaimed furniture and use it in our modern spaces. As much as we appreciate a good, sturdy piece of mass produced furniture from a certain Swedish retailer, there's just something to be said about finding a vintage piece full of character and history. We especially love looking for fabulous lighting pieces, trim, or wooden doors. And even if there isn't a particular piece we fall in love with, shopping for reclaimed furniture is a huge source of inspiration for textures and tiles. Here's are just a few things Shannon found on her recent shopping expedition for one of our restaurant projects!

Valentine's Day Guide by Unknown

Valentine's Day is just about a week away and maybe you forgot, maybe you're not very romantic, or maybe you just need help but we imagine a few of you might currently be anxiety-ridden and clueless about where to celebrate. Worry not, because a few of our clients happen to be some of the best restaurants in Seattle!

At Bar Cotto, the bright materials create a simple but elegant atmosphere perfect for Valentine's Day. The custom built light fixtures bathe the restaurant with a romantic ambiance during the evenings.

Staple and Fancy in Ballard uses light strategically to envelope the restaurant with a warm glow that perfectly compliments everything on the delicious menu.

If you're looking for somewhere a little more casual, the muted colors and material palette of Ballard Pizza Company are perfect for you and your loved one!

La Bodega is the perfect lunch spot with its bright colors and flavorful sandwiches.

Looking for a fun Valentine's Day activity? Stop by Flatstick Pub for mini-golf as well as local beer from all over Washington.

Need more ideas? Visit our website to see other spaces we've designed and get inspired. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Deconstructing the Restaurant Process by Unknown

Like a gourmet meal, the design of a restaurant requires vision, planning, agility and technical skill in order to execute beautifully. When a lease is signed, the clock is ticking and it’s important to balance all of these things along with your budget.

Designing a restaurant is different in many ways from designing a house or other project. Often with a house, you have the time and budget to explore many design pathways to arrive at the best solution possible. With a restaurant, where time is of the essence, choices (& their implications) must be communicated clearly and early on, so that decisions can be made quickly.

For us, the design process often starts even before a lease is signed. Clients come to us and want to know if it will meet their needs before they commit. For instance, if the space was not a restaurant before, sometimes converting it to a restaurant triggers costly code upgrades to the building. A potential restaurant owner can avoid a lot of headache later by investing time to assess the feasibility of the space before the lease is finalized in order to make sure it is a good fit. We can hand-draw speculative restaurant plans that help potential restaurateurs really visualize things like how a space could layout, how big the kitchen could be, and how many seats could fit, making sure this aligns with their business plans. 

Envisioning and Refining the Design
As Architects, we are trained to solve a design problem from many directions and many scales at once. On one end, we are thinking about the overarching concept of the restaurant: What is your Big Idea? What is the menu and style of service? How do you want the place to feel? On the other end, we are thinking about your unique process of operating a restaurant: What is your kitchen workflow? What kind of equipment does that require? What are the critical equipment adjacencies? We attack the design from both ends at once to arrive at a solution where all of the parts (hidden or not) work together harmoniously with your vision.

It is also important that necessary drawings are prepared and submitted for permits from the City Building Department, County Health Department and other jurisdictions so that construction can start as soon as possible.  While we are waiting for drawings to be reviewed and permits issued, we develop the rest of the necessary drawings and details (interior views, colors, lighting, cabinetry, furniture, material & finish selections, etc.) to communicate the entire design intent and create the finished space.

Constructing the Design
When all necessary permits are obtained, construction crews are on-site, and it’s time to build! This is a very exciting time in the life of the project, where you start to see intangible pencil lines and computer models transformed into wood, concrete and steel. Sometimes you find some pretty cool things under the surface after the demolitions of old walls and such. When Café Pettirosso was under construction, we found an entire room that had been boarded up and forgotten!

We also like making things. For Ethan Stowell’s Bar Cotto, we designed and built the light fixtures ourselves, adding a personal touch to the restaurant. We’ve also designed custom chairs and tables for many other restaurants.

In the end we must be agile in order to react quickly to changing site conditions during construction in order to maintain tight project timelines. We must be available and on-site to answer builder questions, problem-solve and respond quickly with drawings and decisions. In the restaurant world, this means doing whatever it takes to get you open on time for the Grand Opening you scheduled months in advance, a challenge that we love.

To learn more about our restaurant design process, check out our featured article in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious Dining Guide!