Restaurant Design

The Best Seat in the House: Agave Maria

Location, location, location. You hear that phrase time and again in regard to real estate, but in terms of restaurants and bars? Why not? The best seat in the house is prime real estate in a popular eatery or watering hole – only the location doesn’t affect price, just a patron’s experience. Whether the best table provides an excellent vantage point from which to see and be seen or is tucked into a romantic nook, those who score premier seating will feel like the most important people in the place.

At Agave Maria in Downtown Memphis, Graham Reese Design Group created a branded environment that interpreted the restaurant owner’s vision of “Tijuana Chic” – an elevated dining experience in a funky, authentic atmosphere. With details like tufted leather, splashes of fuschia and a taxidermied bull overlooking the dining room, Agave Maria sets itself apart from the typical Tex-Mex restaurant both on the plate and in the decor.

Within this relatively small “kitchen and cantina” are several spots that can be considered best in the house: three booths in the front and the booth in the back provide views of the bar and dining room, as well as the activity of a bustling downtown seen through the windows facing Union Avenue. The high booths are comfortable and intimate, which encourages longer visits, and illuminated by handmade pendant lights from Mexico that make the food look as amazing as it tastes. The wide tables provide elbow room, and comfortably accommodate larger groups meeting up for happy hour. Elevated a step above the floor tables, the booths also provide patrons a measure of privacy while dining and people-watching.

Graham Reese Design Group gave personality to a space by executing their client’s vision for an authentic yet hip experience. The attention to detail ensures that, while there’s not a bad table in the place, customers who get the best seat(s) in the house will feel like VIPs.

The Best Seat in the House: Local on the Square

Restaurant and bar design specialists are tasked with balancing flow and function in a space’s layout, so who better to reveal the best seat in the house than these pros? Graham Reese Design Group has been designing restaurants and related hospitality projects for over 22 years, so they truly have the inside track to some of the best seats in Memphis. If they tell you, for instance, where you’ll find the best seats at Local on the Square, then you know you won’t be disappointed if you head right to the ground-floor bar the next time you visit.

Local’s first-floor bar is not simply a waiting room where you pass the time until your table is ready elsewhere. It is the place for folks who want to Eat and Drink Like a Local in Memphis to see and be seen. Views of the room and patio and a community table located nearby make the seats at the bar the house’s choicest spots.

The easily-accessible U-shaped bar provides an excellent vantage point for people-watching as well as engaging with other patrons. There are no corners, just an organic flow that has stood the test of time in barroom design. The wrap-around bar provides customers the opportunity to watch their bartender in action; likewise the customers are always front-and-center as the bartender never has his or her back to anyone while working within the U. Patrons who wish for less interaction with fellow tipplers might choose a seat at either end of the U. If you enjoy getting to know your neighbors, a spot in the middle enables interaction left and right and naturally facilitates conversations, if you are so inclined.

Head upstairs if you are looking for a more cozy spot to sip and socialize. The comfy lounge chairs by the fireplace provide an excellent view of Madison Avenue and Overton Square, as well as a great position from which to watch the game of the day on television. Score one of these premiere spots and Happy Hour just got a whole lot happier.

Generally speaking, the best spots in a bar or restaurant are a matter of personal preference. But interior architecture is deliberate, so trust the experts at Graham Reese Design Group and belly up to bar or claim a lounge chair upstairs the next time you head to Local’s Midtown location.

Kooky Canuck

Kooky Canuck is a Canadian restaurant that brings a distinct theme to the city of Memphis. When the restaurant decided to move locations downtown, I took advantage of the opportunity to take his cleaner line, and further advance it by showcasing rustic elements of a classic Canadian Pub, while also hinting a more sophisticated look. Various ceiling heights and floating wood panes give a great composition of space, and I really enjoyed working with the original brick walls and arch to create this space.

Starting with the bar, I used this element as a statement piece for the space. This oversized bar is complete with a red lacquered backdrop and TV’s . There is a secondary element at the bar, as the interior of the restaurant is divided, there is a front and back half of the restaurant. The front of the restaurant is cozy with banquettes and booths, so if the bar is empty, it still looks and feels inviting.

The restaurant is divided into two halves, which allowed me to design for multi functions of the restaurant. The front portion of the space is where the bar and banquettes are, and provide a sophisticated yet cozy dining experience. The back half of the restaurant is filled with tables and chairs, specifically for big groups, like the Mississippi Queen riverboat tours or the City bus tours. This part of the restaurant makes Kooky Canuck the only place in Downtown Memphis that can accommodate that large of a group, and gives them a chance to eat the famous Kookamonga Challenge, which is to eat a 10 pound burger under an hour.

Using dramatic elements in this Canadian restaurant allowed me to add a sophisticated element to a classic Canadian pub. Whether you are touring Memphis as a guest, or a local wanting to enjoy a Memphis classic, the new location is definitely one to visit.

Best Seat in the House – Folks Folly

A nice advantage to designing restaurant spaces, is knowing the best places to sit in order to enjoy all of the elements that the room has to offer. Graham Reese Design group is kicking off the “Best Seat in the House” series, giving you the expert insight on the best seats in Memphis.

Folks Folly Prime Steakhouse is an intimate steak restaurant in East Memphis, and a local tradition when it comes to fine dining. This place offers legendary steak, live music from their grand piano, and valet service; the perfect spot for any occasion. These elements can be amplified, if you know where to sit.

In its small, intimate bar scene, there are two seats in which to enjoy all that this space has to offer. The first seat is a table just across from the stairs that lead into the room. This spot allows guests to see everyone and gain the full experience without being too close to the grand piano or the bustle of the entrance to the room.

The second spot is the last seat on the u-shaped bar. This spot is difficult to reach initially, but once you are there, it gives you a comfy “womb-like” feeling. This seat is intimate and tucked-away, while still allowing guests the ability to be a part of everything. Sitting at the end of the bar also gives you the perfect angle to get all of the bartenders attention.

From both of these highly desirable viewpoints, you can enjoy the rich wood interior, cozy appointments and glowing, active fish tanks. With a good glass of wine or scotch, some good dinner companions and an impeccably prepared Folk’s Folly filet, you will feel like you are living the high life. Enjoy!

5 Things You Should Know about Restaurant Design

When it comes to designing a restaurant, the expert eye focuses on 5 main elements to draw in customers. At Graham Reese Design Group, restaurant design is an important facet to the portfolio, and there are key things to consider when designing a restaurant space.

1. Create an arrival

How to make an entrance feel like an arrival is something I believe is an extremely important part of the design no not leave out. An entrance should feel more like an arrival to your guests, and if possible, separate from the main dining area. The entrance to a restaurant should give the essence of a grand entrance, or a foyer, or staging area to their dining experience.

2. Create perspectives

The restaurant should have three distinct places to dine; the main dining area, the bar, as well as a lounge. This gives your guests the opportunity to enjoy your restaurant from different perspectives, and so they can find what is most comfortable for them and their occasion.

3. Keep operations in mind

While I like to focus on the customer perspective when designing the space, it is also key to keep in mind the operations of the restaurant. From a big picture standpoint, how the food and drinks go from point A to point B is crucial to having an efficient restaurant, and how the back of house will operate in relation to the front of house. The atmosphere of the restaurant will mean nothing to the customers if the space isn’t able to run efficiently. Design plays a huge role in efficiency.

4. Allow room for table adjustment

How to determine the number of seats in a restaurant is solely based on an operations standpoint. The restaurant must have the ability to quickly turn tables, and the number of seats that are able to be put in the space will directly reflect that.

5. Create a seating variety

For visual depth, it is important to add variety in the seating. Banquettes are important to this visual depth. Another facet to focus on when it comes to seating in your restaurant is the ability and room to move the seating around and adjust according to different sized parties and event seating. Not having enough room or variety will not allow flexibility to the seating, so it is key to make sure that that is noted in the design.

When designing a restaurant, it is important to consider the customer perspective to the operations of the space. Each element of the design as a whole plays an important role in making a space into a successful and delightful environment for guests as well as employees.