Planning the menu for a new restaurant is only one of the challenges. you have to design the proper setting for that food, a setting that will draw people in -- and keep them there, as Chris Utterback reported in his piece on Semple Brown Design's work with restaurants. "Part of the project is always getting to know your different clients, getting inside their heads," says Sarah Semple Brown, who founded the design and architecture firm Semple Brown Design in the early '80s and has been designing restaurant spaces ever since. "It's like reality TV at its best."
But the reality TV at the new Kitchen Denver, which was designed by Semple Brown, may need to turn down the volume.
Well, some of the restaurants in Lodo (and Uptown and Lohi for that matter) may be nice to look at but most are complete failures in terms of hospitality in my opinion. One of the prime objectives in restaurant design should be to create an atmosphere that encourages one of the key elements to a wonderful dining experience - the pleasure of conversation with your dining companions. The Kitchen Denver is an excellent example of a space that makes conversation virtually impossible because of the lack of any sound absorbing surfaces. It's like having dinner in an airplane hangar with jet engines at full roar. Cram 170 people plus staff into a space whose key elements are glass, hard wood floors, brick walls, an open kitchen, and high ceilings (the most common trend in restaurant design lately) and you get a place you want to go to with people with whom you are not on speaking terms.
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What restaurants do you consider well-designed? Which are the worst? Post your thoughts below, and read Chris Utterback's story on Semple Brown Design here.