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Restaurant & Bar Design Tips to Create a Recipe for Success

Nowadays, adventurous travelers and local dining aficionados expect more from a hotel’s restaurants and bars. A dimly lit, prototypical-dining space with a small lounge will no longer suffice, and that’s why more hoteliers are investing top dollar for designs that provide a memorable social experience while capturing the story of the hotel.

“The most important thing that one has to do is understand the guest,” said Jeffrey Beers, founder and CEO of Jeffrey Beers International (JBI). Knowing who they are and what they want “gives you many clues about how to approach the design of the restaurant so that it complements the hotel. Location also plays a big part.”

These days, more guests prefer to dine within large groups—social gathering—which is why more of these spaces now include booth seating and expansive bars, according to Beers. But, he said, single travelers have options too: The additional bar space provides them with an intimate space to eat and drink.

And when creating the concepts for these dining spaces, designers are placing more of an emphasis on the size and scope of the bar than ever before. “Right now, the industry calls it food and beverage,” said Lisa Zangerle, associate principal director, Interior Design + Hospitality. “When it comes to F&B, we’re finding a greater emphasis on the ‘B’ part. It’s becoming B&F.”

Signature drinks and food often define the restaurant, and moreover, help define the motif of the spaces. “With regard to the menu, it’s more themed base,” said Zangerle. “It’s not just a general menu anymore. The offerings are unique.” Beers agreed, adding that food and drink enthusiasts are further drawn to the relaxed environment of a space inspired by a French brasserie or an American grill. And they expect the atmosphere to complement the offerings.

Avenue5 at Inn on Fifth. The design of Avenue5, the upcoming restaurant at the Inn on Fifth in Naples, FL, encapsulates the look and feel of an American grill. Designed by Beers’ New York-based design firm, the $2-million, 7,000-sq.-ft. restaurant is designed to offer a lively, airy and casual setting that incorporates daylight. Slated to open in December, Avenue5 will serve a broad menu of classic American cuisine for lunch and dinner, focusing on grilled entrees.  

With seating for 240 guests, the restaurant features a luminous, light palette, inspired by the beaches of Naples, according to Beers. Throughout the space, JBI infused the design with the hues of a sunset, as well as bright coral. The restaurant will feature materials and colors, such as light woods, to imitate driftwood; satin brass to emulate the sun; and off-white and whites to match local sand.

“We’re blessed with a wonderful location on Fifth Avenue in Naples and the design celebrates—and is influenced by—the spirit of living in South Florida,” said Beers. “The colors and materials were tailored to fit with the surrounding area.”

Other areas of Avenue5 further play upon a beach theme and local influences. The island bar showcases a pop of bright coral-red, and light fixtures above communal tables are encased in a coral-red glass cage. The restaurant also offers a private dining area with a vibrant accent wall and a dining table made from coral-infused glass. Behind the tables, the wall is covered with large, three-dimensional cement tiles that form a hexagonal pattern—a nod to Florida’s historic architecture.

The configuration of the space takes advantage of the luxury boutique hotel’s location on Fifth Avenue. “Having an outdoor presence in front of the hotel reminded me of European brasseries,” said Beers. “I wanted to capture that in what I’ll call an American grill. The restaurant offers a casual and comfortable environment.”

The Lobby at Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Downtown. Similar to Avenue5’s casual, comfortable setting, the Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Downtown hotel features a multifunctioning space known as The Lobby, designed to be equally convenient and desirable for guests and locals alike. The space, which underwent a $6.4-million renovation, was completed in August and pays homage to this historic hotel.

Constructed in 1928, the hotel was the former San Diego Trust and Savings Bank in the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Designated a historic landmark by the city of San Diego, the structure features an expansive lobby area with high ceilings that showcase Mediterranean-influenced geometric patterns, and 35 columns created from 19 different types of marble from various regions of the Mediterranean.

The Lobby features a restaurant, lounge, Starbucks espresso bar, billiard room and general seating areas. This space’s design, by SERA Architects, attempts to embrace the social demands of business and leisure travelers, as well as local patrons, while preserving its historical integrity.

The center space of The Lobby was divided by brass and glass walls, which prompted the design firm to open the space for various social gatherings. According to Zangerle, 85% of the space was cordoned off. “We redesigned the bar so it was more inviting,” she said. “The Lobby wasn’t approachable before. There was only enough space for four lounge chairs. We wanted to bring more energy to the space.”

SERA Architects drew inspiration from the color palette and geometric motif of the expansive ceiling. “We took the colors and graphics and translated it into the furniture,” said Zangerle. “We used a lot of blues and saturated yellows. People are in awe of the architecture and the ceiling.”

The manager of the hotel, Hersha Hospitality Management (HHM), praised the design of The Lobby. “The upscale, modern design and completely unique 1920s architecture, reminiscent of the atmosphere on Broadway at the time it was built, increases the appeal for everyone,” said Mike Murray, COO of HHM.

The menu features American food with Southern California accents for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the bar offers locally brewed draft beer. “These local touches draw in area residents without dissuading guests at the hotel,” said Murray. “As guests become more vocal about their preferences for what they want in a common space, something like The Lobby becomes more of a necessity than a perk or trend.”