Small Plates Restaurant - Royal Oak

CLIENT: Small Plates Restaurant | LOCATION: Royal Oak, MI | YEAR: 2006-2007


Since the opening of Small Plates' first location, the search began for possible areas for a second restaurant. After considering new construction, the dialogue moved toward the reuse of an existing building along an established Main Street corridor. Most important were the continuation of the original restaurant concept, and the reinterpretation of this theme for a different program and context. This included creating an upstairs lounge atmosphere, accommodating live entertainment, modernizing the aesthetic and material palette, and targeting a younger crowd. We created a centered vestibule entry with a neon sign as a focal point, mimicking the one in Detroit. Signature elements such as the banquette seating, open pizza oven, locally salvaged chandelier fixtures, signage, menu items and table settings were also carried over to reinforce the Small Plates brand.

McIntosh Poris also wished to create an active environment both visually and physically. The open flame of the pizza oven and its tiled surround are visible from the entry and guests may sit at the pizza service bar and experience its preparation first hand. The bars, foot rails, and soffits were designed as ribbons to carry attention around the first floor to create visual continuity. A twelve foot high bar rises out of the back of the restaurant with an etched blue hue that establishes itself as the cool, refreshing place to perch above the dining room floor. The chandeliers add emphasis to the height of the first floor as they light the main dining area.

A second similarly themed bar is brought upstairs but oriented horizontally to express the compression and respond to the height restrictions found on this floor. A private chef’s dining room was also added to the program and caters to larger parties. The designers chose to separate this room from an adjacent corridor using a wine rack. By controlling the light on both sides of the wine bottles, using their density as a visual screen, and customizing the color, textures and construction details, the wall is both a design feature and an attraction that sets itself apart entirely from the other dining areas.

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