Restaurant design

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Creative Conversion: Adaptive Reuse

Creative Conversion: Adaptive Reuse Architecture

by David Klemt

Abandoned gas and service station

Just taking a quick glance, I see covered outdoor seating, a cool front desk, and roll-up doors for an indoor-outside space.

There are several benefits to reusing an existing space and converting it into a bar or restaurant, including sustainability, and reenergizing a community.

This approach to design is called “adaptive reuse architecture.” A design layperson would likely call it “repurposing.”

As the term implies, this design methodology focuses on using an existing building in a new, modern way. It’s a beneficial approach to design and architecture in large part because new construction is so resource heavy.

Proponents of adaptive reuse architecture point to a given project’s lower carbon footprint, energy conservation, sustainability, and lower construction costs. However, there’s more to it than just reduced costs (attractive to owners and investors) and lower impact on the environment.

There are buildings that lie dormant across the US, Canada, and other countries that hold special places in communities’ hearts. Revitalizing these spaces can do wonders for lifting people’s spirits, preserving heritage while developing culture and community in a new way.

Finally, in my eyes, it’s honorable to allow a space to once again serve the community, albeit in a different way. A space that once provided a crucial service to an area—employment, resources, a communal space, shelter—can now serve as a place to nourish the body and mind through food, drink, and social interaction.

When considering a site (which should also be accompanied by a feasibility study), operators should look at locations that can help them do what neighborhood restaurants and bars have historically done best: serve as cornerstones for their communities.

Vinsetta Garage

One of the most popular approaches to reusing spaces for restaurants is repurposing service stations.

Maybe its American nostalgia, maybe it’s America’s love for the open road. Or, maybe it’s that there are so many service stations in disrepair throughout the country.

Of course, when considering a former gas station, service station, or automotive repair shop, one must consider the costs of making the space food- and people-safe. After all, oil, fuel, and other harmful substances were present in significant amounts over the years. That said, abatement is absolutely feasible as long as a realistic budget is in place.

At any rate, one great example of service station reuse is Vinsetta Garage. This concept in particular keeps a landmark alive: the restaurant lives inside the oldest garage east of the Mississippi. The garage survived for more than 90 years before closing its doors.

Of particular note is the team behind Vinsetta Garage, Union Joints. Reuse appears to be Union Joints’ raison d’être. Along with this garage, the group has reused a fire hall, a church, and a lumber mill. They’ve even repurposed a Hooters. (We can argue whether second- or third-generation restaurant spaces are adaptive reuse some other time.)

To my knowledge, Union Joints has never repeated a concept, owing greatly to their dedication to giving landmark buildings new life.


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The Jane

What a transformation this space has undergone.

Once a military hospital chapel, The Jane counts among its accolades two Michelin Stars, multiple appearances on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and was described as the world’s most beautiful restaurant at the 2015 Restaurants & Bar Design Awards.

The kitchen resides where the altar once stood, and themes of good and evil, and life and death, can be found throughout the space. This is truly a high-concept reuse of a space.


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Hoogan et Beaufort

When people consider adaptive reuse, many likely think of repurposing factories.

They’re normally large, and often feature impressive floor-to-ceiling heights. And, unfortunately, they can be found abandoned or otherwise unused all over many countries.

Reusing such a space can revitalize an area, removing an eyesore from a community and making it functional once again. An upscale example of a reused and reimagined factory is Hoogan et Beaufort, a restaurant in Montréal, Québec, Canada.

For nearly 100 years, the factory produced rail cars. The industrial space, with 28-foot-high ceilings, ceased production in 1992. Its doors were reopened by Chef Marc-André Jetté as a 70-seat restaurant in 2015.

HopSin Brewpub

This space is part of the Mag8 Craft Beer brewery in Colares, Portugal.

Formerly a tram station and post office, the building also houses HopSin, a brewpub.

As you can see in the post below, the flat roof of the building provides a fantastic outdoor area. Interestingly and conveniently, the tram that currently travels to Sintra stops right in front of HopSin.


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Trinity Place

Located in New York City, Trinity Place reuses a bank vault. However, it’s not just any bank vault.

Diners have the opportunity to grab a bite and drink in a vault tied to industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

In partnership with New York Realty Bank, Carnegie commissioned the bank vault at the turn of the 20th century. And 120 years ago, it was said to be “the largest and strongest bank vault in the world.” It was so big that the building, the Trinity and US Realty Building, was built around and atop the vault in 1907.

Other than restoring it to use as an actual bank vault, what could one really do with this space? Well, two creative restaurateurs, Katie Connolly and Jason O’Brian restored the vault…and turned it into a bar and restaurantcomplete with a 40-foot mahogany barin 2006.

The Ordinary

Speaking of bank vaults, there’s a kitchen behind bank vault doors inside The Ordinary.

The team behind FIG, a James Beard Award-winning restaurant operating in Charleston, South Carolina. Also in Charleston, The Ordinary reuses a bank space.

The bank itself has quite a history. Interestingly, considering the focus of this article, the former bank stands on ground that was once a factory. However, that building was not reused; it was torn down to make way for Peoples-First National Bank, which opened for business in 1928.

Looking at that year, some of you may know what happened next. The Great Depression descended upon the world, and Peoples-First survived as best it could until closing its doors in 1933. Occupied for a time by a bakery, the building became Citizens & Southern National Bank in the 1940s, and operated as such for nearly 50 years.

Citizens & Southern National Bank became NationsBank at the start of the Nineties. Then, just before the turn of the century, the space transformed into a Bank of America branch. The bank closed in 2006.

In 2006, FIG’s owners bought the bank, reusing the space as best they could to reimagine and reopen it as a restaurant. The vault was, unfortunately, removed, but other elements of the former bank remain.


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5 Books to Read this Month: February 2024

5 Books to Read this Month: February 2024

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative February book selections will help you and your team transform your operations, business acumen, and F&B programming.

This month, we look at books covering an array of topics: design; learning to negotiate better; learning cocktail balance and build techniques; and finding your inner chef.

To review the book recommendations from January 2024, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life

This book was co-authored by the late Stephen R. Kellert, one of the developers of the biophilic design methodology. To learn more about biophilic design, click here. Then, pick up this book.

From Amazon: “This book offers a paradigm shift in how we design and build our buildings and our communities, one that recognizes that the positive experience of natural systems and processes in our buildings and constructed landscapes is critical to human health, performance, and well-being. Biophilic design is about humanity’s place in nature and the natural world’s place in human society, where mutuality, respect, and enriching relationships can and should exist at all levels and should emerge as the norm rather than the exception.”

The Cocktail Balance

Written by Stanislav Harcinik, The Cocktail Balance is about more than building cocktails. Readers will learn about the role senses play in cocktails and balance, along with presentation and service.

From “My work isn’t focused solely on experienced bartenders, students are part of the target group. By including potential new bartenders, this book wishes to push the upcoming students into a broader, more creative mindset. The book itself is divided into 3 main sections – theory, practical part and legacy from the best bartenders in Slovakia. Theory, contains the basics and building blocks that allow the development of a professional approach, it also focuses on how to present yourself and how to take care of guests. Whereas in the practical section, readers will be able to learn to price a cocktail and to effectively go through a structured creative process. Other chapters also include gastrophysics and neurogastronomy. In other words how an aroma, a physical characteristics, a sound as well as visual stimulation affect the final flavour of a cocktail, and create a comprehensive and unforgettable experience for guests.”

Pick up your copy today.

Craft Cocktails at Home: Offbeat Techniques, Contemporary Crowd-Pleasers, and Classics Hacked with Science

Some bar professionals and guests like to understand the “why” behind what they consume. Why does this taste good? Why and how do certain processes affect spirits? Kevin Liu’s book answers these questions, and more. On top of that, there are 65 recipes to try.

From Amazon: “In Craft Cocktails at Home, you’ll embark upon a one-of-a-kind journey as you learn how to make some of the world’s most innovative, unique, and delicious cocktails. Taste scientists, engineers, and talented bartenders with decades of experience all contributed their expertise to create this must-have guide for novices and professionals alike. Ever wondered what makes water taste good? Curious about what really happens during the barrel-aging process? Interested in which “molecular” ingredients have the best texture? These questions and more, answered inside.”

Order the paperback here.

The Forgotten Chef

Simply put, this book is intended to inspire younger generations to pursue cooking as a career. If you know someone who has an interest in cooking but hasn’t taken steps to become a chef, this is the book you should gift them.

From Amazon: “The book moves quickly through food stories, tips and techniques to inspire and ignite the passion of its targeted reader. Through anecdotal food related stories, the book covers important topics such as the right mindset for cooking success, quality over quantity, kitchen organization (mise en place), kitchen tools (the Dirty Thirty), the celebrity chef conundrum (why people get discouraged in their cooking journey), introduction to knife skills/care, cookbook basics, food preservation and safety and other fun chapters such as saving Grandma’s recipes from extinction, the lost art of sharing (food), and the new-old method of cooking, sous vide.”

Click here to order the paperback.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Everyone needs to know how to negotiate. It’s a valuable skill not just for business but for life in general. Getting to Yes is a how-to manual that teaches you the art of negotiation, a skill you’ll need to develop if you’re an entrepreneur, aspiring business owner, or professional looking to progress in their career. And, as I’ve already said, it will help you in situations you’ll find yourself in outside of business.

From Amazon: “Getting to Yes offers a proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. Thoroughly updated and revised, it offers readers a straight- forward, universally applicable method for negotiating personal and professional disputes without getting angry-or getting taken.”

Get it today.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Operations Standard Operating Procedures SOP

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Conscious Construction: Biophilic Design

Conscious Construction: Biophilic Design

by David Klemt

Overhead view of Parkroyal Collection Singapore

One term you’ll likely be hearing more of as 2024 progresses is “biophilic design,” the practice of connecting people and nature through building design.

This design methodology was developed in part by the late Stephen R. Kellert, professor emeritus at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

While Kellert didn’t coin the term “biophilia,” he is credited with coining the phrase “biophilic design.” However, the two terms share an intrinsic connection.

The biophilia hypothesis was first presented by psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in the 1960s. Simply put, the idea is that humans have an inherent drive to pursue connections with nature. Edward O. Wilson, a biologist, added to Fromm’s theory in the 1970s. Per Wilson, a key element of biophilia is “the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms.”

In the 1980s, Kellert expanded on biophilia and applied it to design. Per Kellert and fellow biophilic design advocates, humans can experience a range of physical and psychological benefits when our living, work, and leisure spaces have a connection to nature.

According to biophilic design advocates, this methodology can reduce stress, affect mood positively, and improve cognitive performance, making us more productive. There are other benefits as well, of course.

When implemented with intention, biophilic spaces are sustainable; are capable of achieving significant energy efficiency; can reduce a building’s carbon footprint; and can even regulate temperature.

Clearly, this design approach speaks to a number of guest expectations and desires.

The Six Principles

There are, according to Kellert, two key aspects of biophilic design.

One over-arching aspect is organic. This is how shapes used in the design of a building connect people and nature.

The second aspect is place-based. As the term suggests, this is how design features connect a building to the local area in which it’s situated.

Within both the organic and place-based aspects or dimensions of biophilic design are six principles.

Environmental features, such as plants, natural materials, sunlight, water, and colors.

Natural shapes and forms that simulate natural forms. Think spirals, curves, arches, and other flowing design features. Put another way, biophilic design tries to limit 90-degree angles and straight lines.

Natural patterns and processes, which may seem, at first, to be the same as natural shapes and forms. However, these features resonate with our senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and others.

Light and space, crucial to biophilic design, whether daylight, reflected, or diffused light. Designers who really go for it will come up with lighting programs that mimic how light changes throughout the day.

Place-based relationships, which helps a person develop a personal connection with a place.

Evolved human-nature relationships to evoke a range of reactions from humans in the space. This can be a desire to explore the space, or a feeling of safety and protection.


This article is just a crash course in biophilic design. Each of the above principles, for example, contains a number of key attributes.

So, let’s take a look at some examples of biophilic design in hospitality. The following hotels and restaurants should give you a clear understanding of this approach to design.

Parkroyal Collection Pickering

To learn more about this amazing hotel, click here.

Fandi Mata


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Click here to learn more.

Café Lido


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A post shared by Mar Monte Hotel (@marmontehotel)

Learn and see more here.

The West Hollywood EDITION

To see more, click here.



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Click here for more.

Image: Lester on Unsplash

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The Pinnacle Guide Launches

New Global Bar Recognition System, the Pinnacle Guide, Launches

by David Klemt

Golden cocktail in Champagne flute on bar top

Today’s the day that the passionate minds behind London Cocktail Week launch “the Michelin Guide” for bars, open to venues across the globe.

Open to submissions as of today, the Pinnacle Guide is open to any bar in the world. Compellingly and refreshingly, the Guide’s system intends to maximize transparency and minimize subjectivity.

Further, the process begins with the self-nomination of a venue. Truly, this is open to any bar, anywhere.

Two of the team’s founders are recent Bar Hacks podcast guests. On episode 105, Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne explain the Pinnacle Guide ahead of its launch today. You can listen to their episode below.

Dan Dove, owner and operator of Global Bartending, completes the Pinnacle Guide’s founder trio. Speaking of trios, Global Bartending’s areas of expertise are strategy, talent, and events.

I’m likely not the only person who has wondered why the Michelin Guide has yet to recognize bars. Now, I’m grateful they haven’t done so.

That’s not a dig at the Michelin Guide. However, the organization’s expertise is restaurants, not bars. It’s far more appropriateand more crediblethat passionate people dedicated to and enamored with bars are launching this recognition system and platform.

The Process

So, what are you in for when you nominate your bar? The process is quite straightforward.

Simply speaking, the

  • Front of house
  • Drinks program(me)
  • Look and feel
  • Staff
  • Operations
  • Community

Once someone who self-nominates their bar completes and submits their application, the anonymous review part of the process begins.

As this step’s phrasing suggests, anonymous reviewers will visit the venue. These reviewers could be industry professionals. They may be passionate, educated consumers whose opinions are valued and trusted.

Either way, they’ll have been vetted, tested, and completed the Pinnacle Guide Reviewer Training Programme.

For even more information, click this link. You’ll find a series of the Pinnacle Guide Round Table Discussions recordings that dive deep into the system as well.

Interestingly, the founders of the Pinnacle Guide believe undergoing the self-nomination process may also help operators enhance or refine their operation:

“Beyond being a measure of excellence, this transparent and detailed approach is also designed to give venues pause for thought on where they may have room for improvement, with the ambition of elevating the industry by encouraging higher standards across the globe.”

Moreover, the Pinnacle Guide doesn’t pit operator against operator, team against team. Should a bar be recognized by the Guide, they’ll be awarded at least one PIN. A single PIN identifies a bar as Excellent. Two carries the Outstanding designation, and three means a venue is Exceptional.

Receiving a PIN doesn’t mean a bar has beaten out another venue to be recognized; that operation stands on its own as one of the best in the world.

Are You Ready?

Thousands of owners and operatorsand the teams that bring their visions to life every daydeserve acknowledgement for meeting the demands this industry makes of them.

From empowering their teams and serving as the backbone of their communities to delivering world-class service and pairing unforgettable experiences with incredible, welcoming atmospheres, hospitality is chock-full of people whose daily contributions should be recognized.

So, to any operator anywhere in the world, if you believe your team has earned at least one Pinnacle Guide PIN, this is your day. However, carve out some time to truly sit with the application and consider your team and venue.

The Pinnacle Guide is a long time coming. Let’s give it the respect it deserves.

Image: Jakub Dziubak on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The 2023 HD Award Finalists and Winners

The 2023 HD Award Finalists and Winners

by David Klemt

The lobby of ACE Hotel Sydney

As one would expect, the finalists and winners of the 2023 Hospitality Design Awards are a stunning collection of brands from which operators should pull inspiration.

Anyone looking for cutting-edge hospitality design would do well to look into each of the winners and finalists below.

The full list of award finalists and winners, and the architecture, interior design, and purchasing firms (along with owners and operators) can be found on the Hospitality Design website. Just click this link for the full details.

For our past coverage of the HD Expo, please click here.

View into The Lobby inside ACE Hotel Sydney

View into The Lobby inside ACE Hotel Sydney, which offers craft cocktails and small plates.

Lifestyle Hotel


Ace Hotel Sydney (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)

  • Architecture Firm: Bates Smart, Melbourne
  • Interior Design Firm: Flack Studio (hotel), Melbourne
  • Owner: Golden Age Group
  • Operator: Ace Hotel Group
  • Purchasing Firm: Marques Interior Services


Canoe Place Inn & Cottages (Hampton Bays, New York)

Our Habitas San Miguel (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico)

Sisan·Shuanglang Hotel (DaLi, YunNan, China)

Fan Woods Hotel (Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, China)

Lifestyle Hotel Public Space



  • Architecture and Interior Design Firms: Morris Adjmi Architects, and ISC Design Studio, New York
  • Owner: Strategic Property Partners
  • Operator: Marriott International
  • Purchasing Firm: The Parker Company


Ace Hotel Sydney (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)

The Standard (Hua Hin, Thailand)

Luxury Hotel


The Londoner (London, England) United Kingdom)

  • Architecture Firm: Woods Bagot, London
  • Interior Design Firm: Yabu Pushelberg, New York and Toronto
  • Owner and Operator: Edwardian Hotels London


Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection (Gardiner, New York)

Kimpton Bamboo Grove Suzhou (Suzhou, Jiangsu, China)

Luxury Hotel Public Space


The Madrona (Healdsburg, California)

  • Architecture Firm: Strening Architects, Santa Rosa, California
  • Interior Design Firm: Jay Jeffers, San Francisco
  • Owners: Jay Jeffers, Kyle Jeffers, and investors
  • Operator: Mosaic Hotel Group
  • Purchasing Firm: Summa International


The Madrid EDITION (Madrid, Spain)

Pillows Maurits at the Park (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection (Gardiner, New York)

Upscale Hotel


Six Senses Rome (Rome, Italy)

  • Architecture and Interior Design Firm: Patricia Urquiola Design, Milan
  • Owner: Six Senses


HAY boutique hotel & SPA by Edem Family (Bukovel, Ukraine)

The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon (Bangkok, Thailand)

Belmonte Hotel Krynica Zdrój (Krynica-Zdrój, Poland)

Upscale Hotel Public Space


The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon (Bangkok, Thailand)

  • Architecture Firm: Buro Ole Scheeren, Bangkok
  • Interior Design Firms: The Standard in-house design team, New York; Hayon Studio, Valencia, Spain; and Studio Freehand, Bangkok
  • Owner and Purchasing Firm: King Power
  • Operator: Standard International


Thompson Buckhead (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

The Royal (Picton, Ontario, Canada)

Midscale Hotel


Ace Hotel Toronto (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

  • Architecture Firm: Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, Toronto
  • Interior Design Firm: Atelier Ace, New York
  • Owners: Alterra, B-right, Finer Space Corporation, Prowinko, and Zinc Developments
  • Operator: Ace Hotel Group
  • Purchasing Firm: Benjamin West


High Country Motor Lodge (Flagstaff, Arizona, USA)

Albor San Miguel de Allende, Tapestry Collection by Hilton (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico)

Hotel Indigo Jiuzhai (Sichuan, China)

Midscale Hotel Public Space


Ace Hotel Toronto (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

  • Architecture Firm: Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, Toronto
  • Interior Design Firm: Atelier Ace, New York
  • Owners: Alterra, B-right, Finer Space Corporation, Prowinko, and Zinc Developments
  • Operator: Ace Hotel Group
  • Purchasing Firm: Benjamin West


Albor San Miguel de Allende, Tapestry Collection by Hilton (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico)

Crystal Orange Hotel Shanghai Pudong Lujiazui (Shanghai, China)

High Country Motor Lodge (Flagstaff, Arizona, USA)

Select Service Hotel


The Beach Motel (Southampton, Ontario, Canada)

  • Architecture, Interior Design, and Purchasing Firm: Common Good Studio, Toronto
  • Owner: DASA Properties


Hotel Tupelo (Tupelo, Mississippi, USA)

The Shàng | Artyzen Qiantan Shanghai (Shanghai, China)

Select Service Hotel Public Space


Hotel Tupelo (Tupelo, Mississippi, USA)

  • Architecture Firm: Sarah Newton Architect, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Owner and Interior Design Firm: The Thrash Group, Dallas
  • Operator: Tandem Hospitality Management
  • Purchasing Firm: J Desterbecq & Associates


The Beach Motel (Southampton, Ontario, Canada)



Naviva, A Four Seasons Resort (Punta Mita, Nayarit, Mexico)

  • Architecture and Interior Design Firm: Luxury Frontiers
  • Owner: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts


Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection (Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico)

Centara Reserve Samui (Koh Samui, Thailand)

Lodges + Camps


AutoCamp Joshua Tree (Joshua Tree, California, USA)

  • Architecture Firm: HKS, San Francisco
  • Interior Design Firm: Narrative Design Studio, San Francisco
  • Owner and Operator: AutoCamp
  • Purchasing Firm: Benjamin West


AutoCamp Catskills (Saugerties, New York)

Getaway Outdoor Suites (Ottawa, Illinois)

Restorations, Transformations + Conversions


Tin Building by Jean-Georges (New York, New York)

  • Architecture Firm: Cass Calder Smith, New York
  • Interior Design Firm: Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors, New York
  • Owner: Howard Hughes Corporation
  • Purchasing Firm: Summa International


Aman New York (New York, New York)

Virgin Hotels Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom)

Casa Cody (Palm Springs, California, USA)

Ace Hotel Sydney (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)

New Brand Launch


Blue Iris by Life House (Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA)

  • Architecture Firm: Emeritus, Austin
  • Owner: Blue Flag Partners
  • Operator, Interior Design, and Purchasing Firm: Life House


Revo Munich (München, Germany)

The Julius (Prague, Czech Republic)

Sweetbee Café + Bar (Brooklyn, New York, USA)

Event Space


Seattle Convention Center Summit Building (Seattle, Washington, USA)

  • Architecture and Interior Design Firm: LMN Architects, Seattle
  • Owner: Seattle Convention Center


The Madrona (Healdsburg, California)

The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon (Bangkok, Thailand)

Hybrid Hospitality


Little Banchan Shop / Meju (Queens, New York, USA)

  • Architecture Firm: David K. UH, New York
  • Interior Design Firm: CRÈME, Brooklyn, New York
  • Owner: Chef Hooni Kim


Capital One Hybrid Bank and Café (New York, New York, USA)

Changsha Fundolandπ (Changsha, Hunan, China)

Beyond Hospitality


The Water Drop Library (Shuangyue Bay, Huizhou City, Guangdong, China)

  • Architecture and Interior Design Firm: 3andwich Design / He Wei Studio, Beijing
  • Owner: Huizhou Shuangyue Bay Real Estate Investment and Development Co., Ltd.


The Africa Centre (London, England, United Kingdom)

Aqua Foro Pool Club at Piazza Alta (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Wellness + Wellbeing


Paste Dental (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

  • Interior Design Firm: Studio Author, Toronto
  • Owner: Dr Derek Chung


Naviva, A Four Seasons Resort (Punta Mita, Nayarit, Mexico)

Dundas Square Barbers (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)



Chleo (Kingston, New York, USA)

  • Interior Design Firm: Islyn Studio, Brooklyn, New York
  • Owners: Hope and Charles Mathews
  • Purchasing Firm: Wagner Hamill

Six Senses Rome (Rome, Italy)

  • Architecture and Interior Design Firm: Patricia Urquiola Design, Milan
  • Owner: Six Senses


Villa Le Blanc Gran Meliá (Sant Tomàs, Illes Balears, Spain)

1 Hotel Nashville (Nashville, Tennessee, USA)



Centara Reserve Samui (Koh Samui, Thailand)

  • Architecture Firm: Begray, Bangkok
  • Interior Design Firm: AvroKO, Bangkok
  • Owner, Operator, and Purchasing Firm: Centara Hotels & Resorts


Central Hotel Macau (Macau, China)

Albor San Miguel de Allende, Tapestry Collection by Hilton (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico)

Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection (Gardiner, New York)



Venice Simplon Orient Express (Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; and Prague, Czech Republic)

  • Interior Design Firm: Wimberly Interiors, London
  • Owner: Belmond


The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon (Bangkok, Thailand)

Sands Premier Suite, Marina Bay Sands (Singapore)

Casual Restaurant


Great White – Melrose (West Hollywood, California, USA)

  • Architecture Firm: Natalie Kazanjian Architect, Los Angeles
  • Interior Design Firm: Great White Partners in partnership with Buca Studios, Los Angeles
  • Owner, Operator, and Purchasing Firm: Great White Partners


Marcus at Baha Mar (Nassau, Bahamas)

MOVA (Dnipro, Ukraine)

Good Ground Tavern at Canoe Place Inn & Cottages (Hampton Bays, New York, USA)

Shikigiku Japanese Restaurant (IFC Mall) – Café & Bar Area (Hong Kong)

Upscale Restaurant


Oiji Mi (New York, New York, USA)

  • Architecture Firm: David Bucovy Architect, New York
  • Interior Design Firm: AvroKO, New York
  • Owner: Oiji Hospitality


Amal (Miami, Florida, USA)

53 (New York, New York, USA)

Terra (Lviv, Ukraine)

Bar, Club + Lounge


Andra Hem (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

  • Architecture Firm: Stokes Architecture + Design, Philadelphia
  • Interior Design Firm: Ghislaine Viñas, New York
  • Owner: Paige West


Punch Room (Tampa, Florida, USA)

Ritz Bar (Paris, France)

Bar Cima (New York, New York, USA)

Gair (Brooklyn, New York, USA)

Equipment Room (Austin, Texas, USA)

Visual Identity


Saint June at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Greater Antilles)

  • Branding and Interior Design Firm: Goodrich, New York
  • Owner: Dart
  • Operator: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
  • Purchasing Firm: The Parker Company


Zou Zou’s and Chez Zou (New York, New York, USA)

Uniforms at the Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon (Bangkok, Thailand)

Orto (Belfast, Ireland, United Kingdom)



Sarah Choudhary, New York School of Interior Design: Hotel Cirque (Montréal, Québec, Canada)


Bryann Brophy, Brittany Noble, Olivia Fletcher, and Hannah Randall, Iowa State University: Hotel Rina (Rome, Italy)

Hsiang-Ting Huang, School of Visual Arts, New York: A Transitional Place of Love (New York, New York, USA)

Images courtesy of ACE Hotel Sydney

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Tips from Tipps on Cool Concepts

Tips from Tipps on Building a Cool Concept

by David Klemt

Mama Foo Foo Daytona bar and DJ booth

It’s true that “cool” is difficult to define, and yet as amorphous a concept as it can be, we can create a vibe that embodies this important design element.

Some people have an innate understanding of the cool factor. They can identify it, design for it, and reënvision it. However, even these people can’t always explain the concept of cool.

To repurpose a 1964 quote from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, “I know it when I see it.” And to paraphrase that quote, many of us would say we know cool “when we experience it.”

Of course, I can say that the KRG Hospitality team knows cool and develops concepts around this nebulous design concept. But that wouldn’t be cool; if you call yourself cool, you’re not. It’s sort of like attempting to give yourself a nickname—it really doesn’t work. (When I was in the Air Force I witnessed what happened to a few brand-new F16 trainees who tried to give themselves their own call signs. The results? Yikes.)

So, I’m going to share some helpful thoughts on this topic from a friend of KRG. Invictus Hospitality co-founder Michael Tipps, who knows cool when he sees and feels it.

Importantly, he and his team can also design for it. During the 2023 Bar & Restaurant Expo in Las Vegas last month he shared his thoughts on this idea to a room full of operators and leadership team members.

To check out some of the cool concepts in the Invictus portfolio, click here. For the KRG portfolio gallery, follow this link.

So, You Wanna be Cool…

With very few exceptions, most people thinking about their dream restaurant, bar, nightclub, eatertainment concept, or hotel don’t want to embody the antithesis of cool. In fact, I’ll say that if someone does design an “uncool” concept purposely and does so successfully…it’s cool.

That said, here’s an important tip from Tipps on developing a cool concept: “If your bar or restaurant is epic, it will attract everyone.”

However, that doesn’t mean designing a place that attempts to make everyone happy. Instead, consider your target guests—groups of people you and your partners understand, ideally—and design for them.

Nailing your concept for your target guests will attract other groups. And before anyone says that sounds exclusionary, that’s not what Tipps or I are talking about. Listen to anyone from the KRG Hospitality and Invictus Hospitality teams speak and you’ll know making any guest feel unwelcome isn’t on the menu.

Instead, consider the longstanding maxim that you can’t please everyone. Hence, focusing on your target guests to pull the threads tighter during the concept development phase.

Another key consideration when trying to nail down the cool factor? Differentiation.

“If everyone is used to westerns, somebody wants an action movie,” says Tipps. In other words, in a market saturated by one or two types of concepts, there are people dying for something different.

So, develop your dream concept with the idea of delivering something different in mind.

Stay True

This isn’t exactly a hot take but at the end of the day, all restaurants serve food. All bars serve drinks. All hotels provide rooms.

In other words, people can go anywhere for at least decent food and drink, and a place to sleep. The differentiators that separate one concept from another are atmosphere, service, and culture. Those three elements (along with some others) define a particular brand.

When your dream concept is on paper and you’re ready to make it a brick-and-mortar reality, you must stay true to it. Using the KRG process as an example, our feasibility studies, concept development plans, and business plans combine to form our Roadmap to Success. This is a document hundreds of pages long that’s unique to every client and concept we develop.

Once that deliverable is in your hand, it’s crucial to stay true. Or, as Tipps said at BRE in March, “You have to remain steadfast and focused on your concept.”

Designing a cool concept can take you into deep, uncharted waters in your chosen market. The voice telling you that you need to rein things in can be a loud, nagging one. Learn to quiet that panicking voice.

It can be daunting to design something you think is cool. You may find yourself asking if anyone would even want this “cool” concept.

Well, an unfiltered Tipps suggests you consider your answer to the following question: “How do people know what they want if they haven’t fucking seen it?”

You can build the next Applebee’s, Chili’s or Fridays. Or you can build something unique that will set a new standard in a market. And that’s not a knock against those chain restaurants—they’re successful on a global scale. But if you don’t want to operate an Applebee’s, don’t design yourself one.

A Word on Rebranding

Owing to the pandemic, rebrands are, as Tipps says, ubiquitous. This makes sense as people’s perspectives are different now. Operators want to finally own their dream concept. Hospitality pros want to work for brands that share their values, and that they deem cool. Guests want to spend their time and money on brands with which they identify (and also deem cool).

“If somebody wants to rebrand, they probably should,” says Tipps.

According to Tipps, however, “a lot of people confuse a rebrand with a refresh.”

While new tables, chairs, and paint can feel like a huge change, that’s not a rebrand. While many guests appreciate a refresh, their relationship with the brand won’t change much.

So, if an operator doesn’t plan and execute a full rebrand carefully, Tipps says they need to temper their expectations for a measurable ROI.

Now, if you have ideas for a cool rebrand, planning is crucial. But that doesn’t just relate to knowing what you want. You need to have your new name, logo, colors, menus, and exterior and interior designs finalized, of course.

However, you need to plan for how long the rebrand will take. As an example, when Invictus last rebranded their own concept they planned for two months to prepare to shut down for a full week.

Your cool new concept and its cool new details? They cost money and, as importantly, they take time. Which, as we all know in this business, costs even more money when you’re shut down.

Now’s the time to move forward with your cool new concept. Don’t hesitate to take your first step toward owning the cool brand you’ve always really wanted. While you’re dreaming about your concept, someone else in your market is making theirs a reality.

Image courtesy of Invictus Hospitality

KRG Hospitality brand identity. Restaurant. Bar. Cafe. Lounge, Hotel. Resort.

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

KRG Hospitality now Serving Midwest Region

KRG Hospitality adds Midwest Region

Marina City Towers in Chicago, Illinois


Toronto-based hospitality industry consulting firm with offices throughout Canada and the USA now serving the Midwest through Chicago office.

CHICAGO, IL (March 17, 2023)—Today, KRG Hospitality announces the addition of the Midwest region of the US to their North American service area. The team will operate out of an office in Chicago, Illinois. However, the agency will serve Midwest markets outside of Chicago as well.

KRG is excited to announce their presence in the region and their ability to serve clients effectively. The agency will offer the full suite of their proven hospitality solutions, including: hourly consulting and coaching; complete feasibility studies, fully customized concept plans; in-depth, focused business plans; project support and management; food and/or drink menu development and consulting; and personalized F&B education.

“I was born in Chicago and first entered the hospitality industry in the Northwest Suburbs. I got my first taste of nightlife in Chicago’s incredible bar and nightclub scene,” says David Klemt, partner and director of business development of KRG Hospitality. “Those experiences shaped my entire hospitality career trajectory. It will be an honor to serve the great people of the Midwest and bring their hospitality visions to life.”

“2023 is turning into quite the growth year for KRG, with the addition of team members Kim Richardson and Jared Boller, and now an exciting new market,” says Doug Radkey, KRG Hospitality founder, president, and project manager. “We see great opportunity in the Midwest, not only in Chicago, but many of the surrounding regions. The food, beverage, and hotel scene is incredibly strong, and we’re open to the challenge of not only helping launch new hospitality brands but helping transform existing brands scale and be successful in the new era ahead.”

KRG is ready to work with clients of all experience levels in the Midwest. The consulting agency’s suite of solutions serve new operators looking to open their first concept and veterans seeking a rebrand or expansion. From independent pizzerias and QSRs to multi-unit regional chains and boutique hotels, and everything in between, the KRG team is eager to take client visions and transform them into brick-and-mortar realities.

To schedule an introductory call to learn how the KRG Hospitality team serves clients, please follow this link.

About KRG Hospitality

KRG Hospitality is a storied and respected agency with proven success over the past decade, delivering exceptional and award-winning concepts throughout a variety of markets found within Canada, the United States, and abroad since 2009. Specializing in startups, KRG is known for originality and innovation, rejecting cookie-cutter approaches to client projects. The agency provides clients with a clear framework tailored to their specific projects, helping to realize their vision for a scalable, sustainable, profitable, memorable, and consistent business. Learn more at Connect with KRG Hospitality and the Bar Hacks podcast on social: KRG Twitter, Bar Hacks Twitter, KRG Media Twitter, KRG LinkedIn.

Image: Tobias Brunner from Pixabay

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Datassential Identifies Top Design Trends

Datassential Identifies Top Design Trends

by David Klemt

Maximalist interior bar or restaurant design

For their latest FoodBytes research topic, Datassential tackles some of the top restaurant design trends.

Click here to download Datassential’s “Foodbytes: Restaurant Design Trends” report. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to sign up for FoodBytes reports.

As the title states, this Datassential resource addresses the state of restaurant design. Now, we recommend reading the report for yourself but below you’ll find the points that really stand out to us.

If you’re among the 22 percent of operators that Datassential says are either considering a dining room redesign or have completed one, this report is particularly relevant to you.

Back-0f-house Design

Unsurprisingly, most people envision the interior dining area when considering restaurant design. However, as Lauren Charbonneau of Reitano Design Group says in Datassential’s latest FoodBytes, “Restaurants are living spaces that need to be agile.”

That means considering the entire space, not just the front of house. There’s also this stat from Datassential: 64 percent of operators think shrinking their footprint would be detrimental. If that’s the case, making the BoH smaller rather than the front may be the way forward.

So, let’s take a look at what Charbonneau identifies as BoH design trends to consider.

Clearly, it’s crucial operators consider their back-of-house teams. Providing a better workplace experience and improving efficiency can be done through design. Per Charbonneau, operators can use clever design and equipment choices to reduce steps, movement, labor, footprint, and costs.

Additionally, sustainability is not only crucial to responsible operation, being sustainable can reduce costs. Selecting Energy Star, Water Sense, and multi-functional equipment can make tasks easier for BoH teams, make a business more sustainable, and, again, drive down costs.

Maximalist Design

Finally, it seems, the minimalist design trend is losing its stranglehold on restaurant design. Of course, if that approach and design language works for a particular concept, it works.

However, maximalism is growing in popularity. For this type of design, think lots of color and bold patterns. Then, think about using multiple patterns and textures, including on the floors.

So, wallpaper, artwork, plush seating, loud tiles… Per Datassential, maximalism appeals to younger guests. In part, this is because these spaces can offer so many Instagrammable moments.

Monochrome Design

Okay, before we begin, “monochrome” doesn’t only mean a black-and-white palette. While that can work very well depending on the concept, monochrome also means using different tones of a single color.

Of course, there are multiple ways to approach this design trend. For example, if one does want to select a black-and-white scheme, Matte Black Coffee in Los Angeles is compelling.

Not only is the design monochrome, guests feel as though they’re inside a two-dimensional image. Per Datassential, this type of design is growing in popularity across the US specifically.

In terms of colorful monochrome, a great example is NYC’s Pietro Nolita. Not only have they chosen pink for their palette, it’s a core element of their branding: Pink AF.

Yet another way to approach this trend is for operators to use varying tones of particular colors to delineate different spaces. So, the dining room may be tones of pink while the bar is green and a private dining room is blue.

Nostalgic Design

As we’re all well aware, the pandemic derailed people’s plans. In particular, people hit the pause or cancel button on travel and vacations. Now, people appear to restarting their travel plans and getting back out there.

However, we’re also dealing with inflation. So, many people are holding off on spending money on travel. This is where restaurant design comes into play.

According to Datassential, “nostalgic escape” is a trend to watch moving forward. While very specific, this trend combines a dive into the past and capturing vacation vibes.

Per their FoodBytes report, Datassential identifies the following elements as key to this design approach:

  • Soft shades of colors. In particular, pink.
  • Tropical designs.
  • Fifties, Eighties, and Nineties design elements.

One concept that leverages this trend and did so before the pandemic is the Hampton Social. Currently, there are eight locations and two more are on the way.

Of course, it’s imperative that operators commit only to design language that’s authentic to their concepts. Pursuing a trend simply to pursue it is a clear path to disaster. That said, these design trends have massive appeal and can work for many operators and their brands.

Image: Davide Castaldo on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Is Your Brand Engaging the Community?

Is Your Brand Engaging the Community?

by David Klemt

Sign on wall that reads, "We like you too"

Many speakers at HD Expo 2022 are focusing on an important element of design and the hospitality industry: the people we serve.

In other words, designers, their collaborative partners, and their clients want to engage communities.

Now, it’s true that HD Expo 2022 speakers were mainly talking about the hotel side of hospitality design. However, much of what they have to say on the subject of community relates to restaurant and bar projects as well.

Below are helpful insights into engaging the community your business operates in and serves.

Valuing the Community

Crystal Vinisse Thomas, vide president and global brand leader of lifestyle and luxury brands for Hyatt Hotels is bringing Caption by Hyatt to life.

A core element of Caption is community engagement. Yes, travelers are crucial to the success of a hotel brand. However, so are the locals.

After all, hotels, restaurants, and bars employ people from the community. Engaging the community leads to the creation of a loyal guests. During slower times, those loyal locals keep those registers ringing.

As Vinisse Thomas says, operators need to focus on locals as much as travelers. Further, she defines her approach to community as creating a space that’s open to everyone.

One way that Caption is staying true to Vinisse Thomas and Hyatt’s vision for the brand is the Talk Shop. As the name suggests, this is a hangout space. Talk Shop is a communal workspace, a a restaurant, a coffee shop… It’s a hangout for everyone, hotel guest or community guest.

However, Vinisse Thomas does admit that there are challenges when designing and operating for community engagement. One of those challenges is scalability.

Then there’s another big challenge. Designing and operating with the community in mind looks great on paper. But there’s no guarantee that this approach will give an operator an edge of the competition.

To that point, Vinisse Thomas suggests it may be best to speak with one’s competitors to partner on community engagement efforts.

Honoring the Community

An additional challenge when attempting to engage a community is authenticity. It’s a great buzzword, as Vinisse Thomas says, but it needs to be more than that.

Dyonne Fashina, principal of Denizens of Design, has some thoughts on community engagement and authenticity.

Putting it bluntly, Fashina says that honoring a community requires more than a Google search. Rather, designers and operators need to spend time in a given community. They need to get to know the people, the culture, and the vibe.

At KRG Hospitality, we agree. One of our services is site selection. We conduct intensive research to identify the best site for a concept.

However, operator clients need to ensure they know the location. Not just the ZIP code, not just the address, not just the cross streets—the community.

After KRG identifies ideal sites, the client should spend time in those communities, speaking with the people who live and work in them.

Fashina also has another excellent piece of advice for operators. The project, as we often say at KRG, isn’t over after the grand opening. Fashina’s advice speaks to that point.

If an element of an operator’s business isn’t working for the community, she says, they need to be flexible enough to fix it. For owners who perhaps don’t spend every day inside their business or businesses, Fashina recommends visiting to analyze community engagement.

Hospitality is about service, and service requires commitment to being a responsible host and steward. To that end, operators should ensure their concepts improve communities rather than exploit them.

Image: Adam Jang on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What’s Next in the F&B Design Space?

What’s Next in the F&B Design Space?

by David Klemt

Interior of world's first crypto bar

Design driven by a story and narrative, technological innovation, and people’s desire to socialize are what’s next in hospitality design.

The influences above are factoring into the current approach to design in the F&B space. Be it a hotel or restaurant, the F&B landscape is going to look different for several reasons.

Five leading industry experts addressed this topic during HD Expo 2022‘s “F&B Trends: What’s Next?” panel.


Well, let’s start with arguably the biggest “trend” in F&B. Our industry is finally making major advancements in the area of technology.

It may not seem like it to some, but speaking generally, hospitality hasn’t always found itself on tech’s bleeding edge. That’s changing.

In fact, some industry experts feel we may be moving too quickly. For example, an interesting prediction from Restaurant Leadership Conference 2022 is a more deliberate approach to developing and implementing hospitality-specific tech.

Now, that doesn’t mean we’ll see a significant slowdown in tech innovation. Rather, innovators may take a more calculated approach to truly relieve hospitality pain points.

For example, Adam Crocini, senior vice president and global head of food and beverage brands for Hilton, points to a few innovations now common throughout the industry. Digital order, digital pay, and the ability to deliver food essentially anywhere within a hotel, resort or casino property are tech solutions driving efficiency.

However, Crocini sees one segment in need of a specific solution. In the luxury segment, guests prefer in-person engagement with staff and tactile engagement with physical menus.

Ari Kastrati, chief hospitality officer for MGM Resorts International, seems to agree. Tech, says Kastrati, shouldn’t replace human connections. Rather, technology needs to enable and enhance.

The Experience

When it comes to design, much of the focus is on the impact it will have on the guest or consumer. However, the end user is hardly the starting point.

For Kastrati, a successful project begins with the development of a relationship. That relationship is between the designer, the operator, and the concept. If care isn’t taken to nurture that relationship, it will likely show in the final product.

In Crocini’s eyes, that relationship informs the development of the operator’s concept. How? Through the development of a story and narrative.

If the designer and operator can develop a story, the design can be grounded in said story. Further, every element of a design can be held up against that story to see if it “fits.” If it does, the design will deliver a holistic experience and engage the guest or consumer.

In terms of F&B, Kastrati and Crocini make similar points. Both feel knowing the guest and anticipating their needs is crucial.

Addressing design elements that impact the experience, Crocini believes design should start with lighting. A design without proper lighting, Crocini says, is like a Scorsese film without the score.

Alexis Readinger, founder of Preen, is focusing in part on unique floorplan design. In particular, Readinger likes features that encourage interaction between guests, such as communal loveseats. However, “protecting the introverts” is also important for some guests’ comfort levels.

It’s safe to say that Caroline Landry Farouki, partner at Farouki Farouki, agrees with Readinger and Crocini. Seating, says Landry Farouki, can create different levels of intimacy to engage extroverts and introverts, and lighting designers are crucial and can really tell the story.

F&B Trends

In terms of consumer trends, Kastrati points to something specific he’s seeing in Las Vegas. People are seeking out specialty restaurants and luxury retail. At least anecdotally, this confirms what many reports and experts have been saying for the past few years: Consumers are showing increased interest in luxury.

However, Kastrati’s focus in the F&B space isn’t solely on guests and consumers. Rather, he suggests that the next step is bringing people back to the workforce. As Kastrati says, there’s no hospitality without people. Kastrati believes all of us in the industry need to encourage people to pursue hospitality careers.

Switching gears, Jessica Gidari, director of design and concept development for Union Square Hospitality Group, points to an effective pivot as a possible industry trend.

At least one concept in the Union Square portfolio has pivoted from a restaurant to a cocktail bar. A menu with shareable plates leverages guest desire to socialize and share. Gidari also says doing away with some traditional two- and four-top tables and replacing them with communal seating can “rebrand” a space as a “convivial” lounge.

Landry Farouki thinks operators can count on two compelling trends in the F&B space. One is the return of the restaurant as “the bar.” As someone who lives and works in Las Vegas, I can attest to treating restaurants more as bars myself.

Another possible trend Landry Farouki predicts is “mature dining” replacing fine dining. Explaining mature dining, Landry Farouki says such a concept is chef-driven but doesn’t focus solely on the chef.

Trend predictions must be taken with a grain of salt. However, I only see upside for design that helps operators engage guests more from the start.

Image: LYCS Architecture on Unsplash