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It is the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. One of the facts that keeps getting reported is that there are now 300 more restaurants in New Orléans than there were before Katrina.

Bloom Restaurant

This made us look around our city. Grand Rapids Michigan is seeing a stampede of boutique restaurants, coffee spots and general food-eries over the last few years. r.o.i. Design suggests this is the coming of age of our city, but also the evidence of a universal American lifestyle trend that says the neighborhood restaurant is being adopted as our “other place”.

Designers now have opportunities to help restaurant owners express the passion of the menu and the soul of the community in their interiors and façade design.

Personalization is everything. r.o.i. Design is not suggesting the equivalent of Applebee’s a-million-framed-pictures-and-stuff approach, but rather key materials and decor that communicate to the diner the nature and values of the ownership and how they align with the neighborhood.

It is easy for guests to see if recycled materials are being used, if the layout encourages private, party or other types of communication, if original art is appreciated, and if the place inspires the wait staff, cooks and servers. A happy waiter is one who loves their restaurant.

And isn’t the best restaurant experience the one where you connected with your server and hope they are there when you go back. That server represents that restaurant and it’s values. The design of the restaurant is a perfect set for the cast selected and trained for that “stage”.

Support your neighborhood eateries, today!