by Eric Aulenback
Restaurant design is about laying a foundation where hospitality and guest satisfaction can flourish. The foundation begins with the floor plan, the blueprint that will define the future of the restaurant. The layout dictates the seat count, capacity, and ultimately the revenue potential. We often lay out the design on the actual floor and assess sightlines from every seat and how staff and guests might flow from point A to point B.
Then we look for ways to enhance guests’ experiences. “Bridging” — building chameleon-like spaces that bridge the dining and social needs of the neighborhood community, all day and evening — is paramount. Interiors want to be authentic, like a home where comfort reigns above all else. Our design method is about the fusion of a dining experience with a social experience.
At Capo Restaurant and Supper Club in South Boston, the floor plan is based on creating varied experiences within larger spaces. The goal is to give neighbors a comfortable front room that looks like an Old World Italian tavern: an open store front with mahogany bi-folding doors, a bar area with high-top and booth seating made with 200-year-old reclaimed pine, antique ceiling fans and ambient globe lighting that line wood-clad ceilings. Every finish in the back room is different from the front. Open kitchens and flexible low-seating options serve primarily as our dining room but can morph to accommodate events and private dining. The experience is designed to be a bit brighter, more culinary, more focused on the kitchen and food.
The look and feel of a restaurant communicates with guests on a subconscious level, which affects how and when they integrate the venue into their daily lives. We use a wall-mounted display and cutting station to highlight artisanal bread and prominently displayed wine, which help communicate intimate meals shared with friends and family. The juxtaposition of spinning ceiling fans, the energy of the servers, the crackling fire, the dance of food preparation, and the wood-fired oven form a symphony of movement that, along with a curated soundtrack, creates theater where diners become the stars of the show. The goal: to make our neighborhood restaurants feel like a favorite pair of jeans, the ones you keep coming back to and want to wear every day.