If money does in fact grow on trees, I would be a shrub. Hence the need to do everything I can by myself, working within the strictest budget; do things old school, like our parents used to, hammer and drill in hand. I remember opening up my first restaurant, Blowfish, and the team we required to get the restaurant open. It was a great group, each member playing their very specific roles to determined detail. Blowfish would not have been the success it is today had it not been for those people. How I wish I had that group with me again for this project…

As soon as I got off the plane, I dropped my stuff off at home and rushed to the restaurant. I wanted to take a good look at the space again and make some changes to the design before the contractor came to do the work I had instructed him to do before I left for Korea. After that experience, I had some different ideas. I would go with under-designing (the accountant in me speaking) rather than over (the show-off who spends way beyond his means).

First the frontage. Originally, I told him I wanted a metal of some sort with a rusted copper sheen to it. I realized that since there were no design elements that were consistent with it inside the restaurant, it was a foolish expense. The frontage currently looks like this. I designed something like this on my handy Mac Illustrator. It works much better with the interior, but might be a bit too rustic-looking. I love reclaimed wood because it resonates with a deep sense of place, but it can seem a bit too contrived when over-used. What do you think? (I would love to hear your comments. In fact, I am offering complimentary dinners for two for the best ideas- there is still some time.)

Inside, I had an idea about the front of the bar area. I wanted to “stretch” the bar out without demolishing it to give guests a sense of being apart from the bar, yet a part of it. Originally, I was going to put some high tops by the window, but they seemed to just drift out there like islands and I didn’t like the idea. The north side of the bar, facing the main front windows, currently looks like this. I put some existing high tops together and imagined something like this. Kind of like Korea or Florida, a peninsula that is part of the main structure. And here is the view as though you were looking in through the front window. What do you think?

The bar is the centerpiece of the main room and therefore needed to express itself. It currently looks like this with its haphazard placement of isolated shelves and a misplaced flat television screen against a sombre green-ish wall. It needed a breath of fresh air and I was thinking that tiles would complement all the wood and stone in the interior while at the same time giving it some vibrancy. I thought this tile look was a great idea earlier today as I looked at samples, but now am beginning to second-guess myself. Is it too much? With all the liquor displayed on the shelves, would the vibrancy of the tiles effectively be nullified. It would look like this. What do you think?

The wall covering the kitchen needed to be opened. I wanted people to stand (with a wood ledge jutting out to hold their drinks and appetizers) and watch the cooks work through glass. Imagine that entire wall with the wood engravings blown out to reveal the full kitchen. My only fear is that flourescent lights coming out of the kitchen might take away from the softer lighting ambience in the room. As for the wood paneling, it will be a deep ruby red stain.

Tomorrow, I visit the washrooms and the back part of the restaurant, which is becoming more clear to me by way of food concept.