Operators are keeping budgets in line by turning everyday objects into restaurant decor.
Denver seafood restaurant Stoic & Genuine reused floats from Japanese fishing-boat nets in a decorative glass wall. “We found a guy in Alaska who combs the beaches for these glass floats that come ashore,” says chef-owner Jennifer Jasinksi. “We bought a bunch, and a local company built the lighted sandwich wall.” Wooden sand fencing adorns the ceiling. “Everything hints at being at the beach.”
Walls of poetry
The walls at chef Daniel Patterson’s Plum Bar in Oakland, Calif., are covered from floor-to-ceiling with pages from poetry books. The team—including Patterson himself—chose thousands of verses and put up three layers by hand, sealing them with a glossy finish.
Asian-inspired Yellow Fever in Los Angeles builds its menu around rice and noodle bowls. The theme is echoed in the fast casual’s design, where melamine bowls in assorted sizes and neutral colors decorate the walls. “We tried using the same bowls we serve in, but they were too heavy to hang,” says co-owner Jeff Nitta.
Instead of artwork, Ampersand, the 600-square-foot private-event space within Chicago seafood restaurant Kinmont, covered its walls in chalkboard paint. Those renting the room can personalize the space by writing their menus on the walls, posting a marketing message or jotting ideas during a meeting. “Probably the most central tenet of the Ampersand concept is the ability to customize the entire space to best accommodate the event taking place as well as the audience in attendance,” says partner Chris Freeman. Some guests get very elaborate, says one server, hiring chalkboard-stencil artists to spend upward of two hours decorating the whole room in illustrations.