Over the past 20 years, Scott|Edwards Architecture has worked with many restaurant and beverage industry clients across the United States. As cities around the country went into lockdown this spring, we knew we would need to find ways to help our clients adapt to a new reality. People still crave enriching experiences with food and drink. Sharing a meal with good company is a core human desire, but many of the rules surrounding public interactions have changed completely as a result of the pandemic. So we decided to convene a ThinkTank of architects and interior designers to consider the present and future direction of restaurant and hospitality design.

How can restaurants become more nimble to adapt to the rules of a socially-distanced world?  What are the lasting effects on restaurant design? In asking ourselves these questions and working alongside restaurants and breweries, we began collecting ideas and case studies.

Pivoting Toward Flexibility

What emerged from our collaboration is a set of concepts and strategies that we wanted to share with not only our own clients, but the wider restaurant and design communities. We have now released version 2.0 of an Adaptive Restaurant Design Guide created for restaurants, breweries, and other establishments re-opening during the ongoing pandemic. The guide focuses on ways that restaurants and breweries can pivot (and are) to make meaningful, safe, and communal spaces that have the flexibility to perform under normal and socially-distanced scenarios.

We’ve identified five basic concepts that are central to doing business in the “new normal” of the food and beverage industry:

    The public is keenly aware of the importance of health and sanitation protocols, and will continue to be so as lockdown restrictions lift. Diligence to health safety standards builds trust with patrons.
    With the advent of the curb economy, the customer experience has shifted from brick and mortar locations to mobile devices, take-out windows, delivery vans and front porches.
    With restrictions in place on restaurant occupancy, new ideas for utilizing empty space can present added business opportunities and mutually beneficial partnerships.
    More than ever, social media and a solid brand presence across online platforms are key drivers for success as customers increasingly order take-out and delivery online and bypass the dine-in experience.
    You have to give to get. Never underestimate the power of good deeds in difficult times.

The approach to implementing these concepts will vary depending on a restaurant’s size and context. We’ve compiled a series of case studies and diagrams to show creative solutions to projects of all scales – from reclaiming the table count in the street outside a small brewery to flexibly adapting the uses of a large restaurant and bar. The content is based on interviews with businesses and the innovative solutions they are pursuing to bring back lost business from the shutdown.

Our intent with this design guide is that business owners may find a concept or two that is helpful and applicable to their unique situations.  This is a living document that continues to evolve as we learn and explore the changing issues that face the industry.

Lean on Your Community

No restaurant is an island. Reach out to your architect, your graphic designer, your marketing guru, and those that have helped you craft the experience of your business.  Connect to new minds who will see your unique challenges with fresh eyes. We serve this industry because we have a passion for it and we want it to thrive. We are a resource for you, and we are here to help.

Download the Adaptive Restaurant Design Guide here.

S|EA is formulating COVID-19 response strategies for a variety of markets. A new guide for office designs is in the works and will be released in the coming weeks.