Compelling concepts are the bottom-line to success in today’s changing restaurant venues. Millennials are the new Baby Boomers, having surpassed this generation in numbers to become America’s largest generation as of 2014. Statistics show that Millennials are more prone to eating out and that their tastes range from fast-casual to Asian and exotic. They are looking for a healthy choice which explains Panera Bread’s expansion while other restaurants are closing their doors. Millennials want their life to be exciting. They want to try new and different experiences and flavors while they contribute to the world at large. This generation wants to meet up with their neighbors, friends, and strangers that become friends at the neighborhood eatery where they can relax, share a craft beer and a shot of Fireball whiskey while delving into a few tapas. Enter the world of the changing restaurant landscape.
This new breed has created an expanding and successful transformation in the realm of restaurant innovation and design. Think exotic and vintage—a place that takes you to another time and place. Here are just a few of the concepts taking the restaurant scene by storm and doing it famously.
The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has made a very profitable enterprise from living out on the range, cooking country classics and then blogging about it. It seems people are looking for comfort food and American classics in an atmosphere reminiscent of their origins. In order to accommodate this, restaurants are creating venues with rustic designs such as wood-planked walls and unfinished wood tables. Chicago hosts MK—a restaurant that has created country rustic through the use of high wood-beam ceilings and exposed brick walls in a building that provides a barn-like atmosphere.
Bringing the Outdoors In
Nature has always played an integral part in interior design. The five elements: wood, earth, water, fire and metal have been transforming restaurants for a decade. The new trend? Plants…everywhere. Tropical plants and botanical wallpaper meets rattan furnishings at Leo’s Oyster Bar in San Francisco. Take it up a notch at The Pot Commissary Café in Los Angeles where guests enter into a full-on greenhouse surrounded by glass from walls to ceiling.
Of the five elements, the one making its self known in 2017 is fire. Open-flame, wood-burning grills are inviting diners to be an intrinsic part of the cooking experience by placing blazing open hearths in the middle of the dining room. Restaurants that are taking this to the extreme include Saison in San Francisco and King + Duke in Atlanta.
For those of you who thought wallpaper was old-school and outdated, ah contraire. Termed the “Loveliest Newcomer” by LA Eater, Winsome, in the community of Echo Park in Los Angeles, offers an American modern menu in an elegant diner motif. They’ve taken the new wallpaper return to the extreme with a floor-to-ceiling re-creation of Phil Dike’s 1938 watercolor “Sunshine in Echo Park.”
Located in Austin, Texas, Mattie’s features vintage-style seating in what was once a farmhouse—an appropriate venue for their farm-fresh fare. Refinished floors and restored fireplaces are set against paisley-like wallpaper depicting the peacocks that once roamed the grounds.
Hard to Define
Some of the latest designs are hard to define. Take Gwen, located on the infamous Sunset Blvd. of Los Angeles, and the award winner for Eater’s “Most Beautiful Restaurant of 2016.” This restaurant and butcher shop in one depicts what can only be called primal elegance. Fire, once again, makes its appearance in the large fireplace with a massive copper chimney that can be found in the center of the dining area. Eater describes it as “A Post-apocalyptic party bunker where the one percent drink away the last days of the world.”
All of these establishments have made their mark on the restaurant scene by thinking out of the box and creating an experience for their customers. Define your voice, brand, and target audience and then let your imagination soar and you too could be the next venue making the list for successful and innovative restaurant designs.