Article contributed by Marcy J. Weiss, Associate Director, Marketing, elite | studio e
When elite | studio e has the opportunity to design a café, dining room, standalone concept or hospitality space, we start by having a conversation with the operator and client to determine the desired look and purpose of the space. But if you’re not sure what direction you want to go in, we’ll certainly work with you to establish that too. In addition, we can build on this throughout the programming phase by speaking with the facility’s consumers. Our ultimate goal, before we even begin to conceptualize the space, is to understand: is it just a dining space or is there a desired workspace function? Let’s take some time to explore both sides of the conversation.
If what you really want is a dining space, you can provide an ambiance to diners that is nothing like the rest of the office. For example, if the entire building is a traditional work environment with large mahogany desks in offices and rich, dark colors, elite | studio e can help you create a dining destination that is white with pops of color. Maybe it features a food truck facade on one station or a hearth wrapped in colorful mosaic tile, while the dining room walls are adorned with flat screen televisions and pockets of recreational activities like foosball tables or chess boards built into the tables. This dining experience provides individuals with an escape from the office and fosters socialization and relaxation. Our team can create this destination through finishes, millwork, equipment for a supporting menu, dining furniture and more.
On the other side, elite | studio e can create a dining experience that features the company brand. Typically, a branded dining room also serves a business purpose – to encourage collaboration, provide opportunities to connect, and even convert to town hall meeting space when necessary. Most of these companies want their message to continue into the dining space so employees can be inspired by it.
One example is at CBS Studios in NYC, the client desired a space that envelops the station’s message and colors. In this particular space, you’ll notice pops of the brand in the café color selection and in the word wall our team designed. In the dining room, our Creative Design team continued to utilize the CBS colors in the finishes and furniture selections. In addition, by collaborating with our Marketing team, the wall graphic provides a visual history of shows filmed at this CBS location. The graphic showcases memorable clips of CBS television, news and sports shows, including “I Love Lucy,” John Whitaker’s sports coverage, and “Survivor”. In a similar fashion, Nathan’s recently unveiled a contemporary design that embodies the history of its brand.
elite | studio e’s Creative Design and Marketing teams, foodservice equipment and interior design vendors, and graphic companies are constantly developing innovative ways to enhance a brand throughout the dining experience. A café and dining room can feature messaging on wall graphics and food view windows, etching on stainless equipment, material selection, furniture fabrics and more. And while these spaces do provide different dining zones, depending on an individual’s need in the dining space, you have to wonder if the finishes get tired quickly when a brand surrounds you all day every day. Does it make someone want to go out of the office to dine more frequently often leading to longer lunch times and a decrease in revenue for an operator?
At elite | studio e, we believe there’s a balance between these two experiences. Yes, we will always work with our clients to create desired solutions, but take a look at the project we designed and built at Delta Headquarters in Atlanta, GA. The café and dining room offer an escape from the day to day monotony of being at the office, but the Delta brand can still be found when you look closely. The company’s widget is featured in several places including the shape of the lighting above the dining room and the wooden ceiling décor above the market bar. The red color from the airline’s logo is also used as a highlight color in the space, not the company’s primary blue.
In addition, at Delta Headquarters, the incorporation of national brands takes away from the Delta look and feel overpowering the space. Both the Starbucks and Chick-fil-A station feature their own brands, finishes specifications and graphics. This creates different destinations within the same café. Similarly, the dining experience provides a variety of zones allowing individuals to work or relax depending on their mood. The workplace café model has become increasingly popular over the past five years in the business and industry sector and in large real estate buildings.
All of these components utilized in the Delta Headquarters project, provide a balance between the design of a dining space and brand. As a foodservice solutions firm, elite | studio e will collaborate with the operator, client and other parties involved to understand your brand and how you want it to relate to your dining experience. We’ll then bring the right team members on board to conceptualize, design and build your desired solution.