SEATHROO rooftop lounge | case study in pictures

August 27, 2015

by william choukeir


casafekra-seathroo-01

what if you had a food & beverage space without a ceiling? without walls? what creates the mood and ambience then? you probably guessed right. all that's left is the furniture. in today's case study this is exactly what we'll showcase.
 

Palma Beach Resort is a breathtaking haven in Behsas at the entrance of Tripoli. over the past short years, Palma has been adding F&B outlets to its arsenal. all of which have been furnished by casafekra®. no matter your taste, you'll likely find something for you there.
 

there's seafood at Le Poissonier. international cuisine at FoodStyle, which recently replaced Café Del Mar. There's Lebanese cuisine at Al Fishawi. and last but not least, there's the focus of today's case study, SEATHROO, a rooftop lounge that easily accommodates 300 guests, and has quickly taken over the heart of thousands.

the space casafekra® received was void of anything except a raised platform. read on to see the total transformation.
talented designer Sahar Minkara worked closely with us on plans, furniture layout, furniture selection, repartition, and finishings.
 

Sahar's most striking creation is the access to the rooftop. here's how she describes it in her own words:

“the entrance of this rooftop was especially designed as closed and dark as possible to contrast with the open space upstairs. Corten, lit furniture, and a tropical mood were blended perfectly with custom designed lights to take you to a different world by just climbing a few steps up.”
 

going up a dark, rustic, and closed staircase creates a grand impression as soon you reach the top where you're only surrounded with sky and sea. you notice a slightly raised platform separated from the rest of the open space by what appears to be lit bamboo stalks; custom designed by Design in Beirut (DIB). and yet, this platform in itself seems to hover above ground. lit indirectly from below, during the cover of night, you can't seem to find any connection between this raised platform and the floor.
 

you quickly notice that the secret to turning this open space into a brilliant atmosphere is indeed the ambient lighting. and most of the furniture selected play their role in lighting the space, because they're internally lit. the majestic bar for example is in itself internally lit. this casts a warm glow on the skin of anyone conversing around it. if you ask any photographer, she'll tell you that indirect ambient light can make anyone look prettier.
 

with the Palm trees watching over the guests, you can't help but feel teleported to the tropics. your eyes catch the trunk of a tree and follows it to its base. a smile forms on your face. the trees are planted in planters that act as benches for guests. each planter seats five guests and is internally lit. Anyone sitting on these is completely hugged by light. no wonder these benches called Sardana won Best of The Year Award (download 3D model at end of email).
 

glass balustrades expand the space and connect you to the sea around you. the rest of the furniture was carefully hand-picked to reinforce this tropical haven.

yet every project has its challenges. with all locations that are near-sea, sea water and sea salt are a serious risk to furniture and finishings.
 

technical specifications had to be rigorous. the materials were specifically selected to be resistant to all weather conditions, and specifically to sea salt. everything is weather and rust proof. all materials and finishings are of the highest quality, requiring minimum maintenance. this challenge requires expertise and confident know-how of supplier specifications because often, even a change in color changes the salt-resistance of a material.
 

in an open rooftop, yes, furniture creates the whole ambiance. but internally lit furniture creates mood, separates spaces, casts a glow on guests, and creates a dance of light and shadows as guests move about the space.

we hope that after today's journey, you've gotten a small taste of this grand experience.

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a crowded restaurant is good and bad. here’s why.

July 23, 2015
by marie murray

every year, karim goes to watch a huge parade in the center of his city. as soon as he parks his car and walks out into the street, he is surrounded by people everywhere. the mood is loud and celebratory and exciting, but also very overwhelming.

after the parade, he starts walking against the flow to find somewhere to eat lunch. the crowd is so dense that it can feel like he’s pushing against a stampede. his heart starts pounding and he feels overwhelming excitement. he can’t decide whether he wants to leave or stay in a place full of so much energy.

the story is a dramatic way of expressing how we humans perceive crowded environments. when it comes to food & beverage (F&B) spaces, science reveals that crowding has the same dual effect on patrons (guests). let me explain.

first of all, there are two types of crowding when it comes to public spaces. there’s human crowding, and then there’s spatial complexity or seating density. first, i’ll focus on human crowding.

patrons tend to feel more uncomfortable in a crowded public space than they do in environments that are less congested. however, studies show that when patrons are asked about why the venue is crowded, their responses are surprising.

they tend to attribute the crowdedness to good food quality, good reputation, and good pricing1. are you confused?  if guests are uncomfortable in crowded restaurants, why do they give such high reviews? the answer is fascinating.

crowded spaces cause increased stimulation, which can be exciting, but they also cause people to feel a loss of control over their environment. it’s basically the same contradicting emotions that karim felt in the middle of the crowded city on the day of the parade.

in order to regain control, studies show that people start justifying their choice of venue1. they quickly start to assume that the reasons for the crowdedness are good food quality, good reputation, and good prices. this makes them feel that they are in control because they can make choices, that they have chosen this particular place, and that it’s the right choice.

the next level of crowdedness comes from spacial complexity and seating density.


high seating density with moderate spacial complexity.

studies show that patrons respond negatively to spaces which are too dense or complex3. they prefer spaces that feel only moderately complex. complexity here refers to a whole range of details: closeness of seating, contrasts in colors and design, and even which floor you’re on. The higher the floor, the higher the perceived complexity.


moderate seating density with moderate spacial complexity.

so how is it possible to find the sweet spot? in order to produce the positive effects of human crowding without sacrificing patrons’ comfort levels, here are some points to consider:

  • aim for medium complexity. too simple is dull. too complex creates visual noise and chaos
  • use contrasting elements strategically to achieve mediate spacial complexity
  • furniture types contribute to spacial complexity. select a handful of furniture types and stick to them. then use finishes and colors to keep things interesting
  • sound also contributes to perceived spacial complexity. use sound as an additional variable to achieve the ideal balance
  • in the end, the best combination is a F&B space full of people, and an interior that’s complex enough to feel interesting but not chaotic and confusing


low seating density with low spacial complexity.

the good news is, crowding can offer the same thrill to your F&B business that karim feels on parade day in a big city. the challenge is to make sure that the sense of crowding comes from a space that feels full of people, and not from the overly dense furniture layout. and if in doubt, invest in filling up your space with guests, and the rest will soon follow.

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studies reveal the secret to F&B success… and it’s not what you think

June 30, 2015

by marie murray

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we’ve heard it since we were little. make a good impression. be polite. don’t talk with your mouth full. say please and thank you. don’t pick your nose. and on and on and on. as kids, these rules just seemed annoying, but somehow we knew that our parents were trying to tell us something important. what were they getting at anyway? they were teaching us about image: the face we present to the public.

in the F&B industry, image is a lot more important than we might think. that may be common knowledge to industry experts. but not all of the contributing factors that make up ‘image’ are created equal. one contributing factor really makes the biggest impact. we’ll get to all those factors and highlight the most important one, but first, let’s take a look at why image is so important.

one study1 shows that in public spaces, image is often the primary factor that determines whether or not people will return to a public space and whether they’ll recommend it to others. it matters. this is especially true for franchises that fall between fast food chains and full service restaurants, which are rapidly becoming most popular in the food industry.2

so, what exactly is image?

it’s what sets a public space apart from competitors. it’s all the things that make a brand stand out. it’s more than the immediate experience guests have while they’re actually in the public space. image is what sticks in the patrons’ minds long after they’ve left, and what keeps them coming back for more… or never returning.

technically speaking, image is the combination of branding, décor and interior design, furniture, store location, waiting time for a meal, food quality, menu variety, professional appearance of staff, price, and cleanliness3. but really, image is the specific harmony of all those factors working together.

today, the options and possibilities can seem endless. guests can choose from an almost unlimited number of public spaces, and the variety of choices are staggering. they can base their decision off of menu preference, ambiance, service, price range, or location. so why not focus on just one aspect and gain popularity by excelling in that area?

well the fascinating discovery we’re sharing with you is that the whole is far more significant than the sum of its parts. in other words, the individual aspects of a good restaurant or public space (service, location, menu, wait time) are not nearly as important as the overall experience. yes, all those aspects are included, but they’re exponentially more valuable when they merge to create one unique image.

two zones in the same restaurant create different atmospheres.

so what’s the most important contributing factor? surprisingly, it’s usually not the quality or variety of the menu that matters most. that’s because there are more and more places that serve similar menus4. image is actually best determined by the décor and interior design5. creating zones that offer slightly different atmospheres also makes a difference. and furniture is often the differentiating factor between different zones. the most impactful first impression is the atmosphere. that’s also what stays the most with guests after they leave. if guests can choose from a wide variety of places, they are most likely to return to the place with the best atmosphere.

furniture is often the differentiating factor between different zones.

the next time you think of image as an annoying set of rules that your parents used to make you behave in public, think again. image may actually be the primary thing that determines the success of your restaurant or public space.

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the new Casper & Gambini’s: photos, process, & more

June 13, 2015

casafekra-adu-dhabi-view

let’s try something new. we’d like to occasionally start sharing some inspirations from the long list of parters we serve. today we’ll go through a visual journey of one of our projects. through that journey we’ll touch on some aspects of our process.

Casper & Gambini’s is revamping their identity and reinforcing their signature customer experience. this revamp isn’t only experienced through the look & feel of the space, but also through the new menu and new cuisines.

casafekra Casper & Gambini's

Ant Ventures (the creator of Casper & Gambini’s), wanting to serve the UAE market, selected the Abu Dhabi corniche as the ideal location to pilot this revamped identity. Abu Dhabi is only the first of many future outlet locations in the UAE, and multiple outlets in more than 10 countries will experience this change as well, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Nigeria, and Lebanon.

casafekra Casper & Gambini's

to complement the novel identity the new Abu Dhabi outlet (pictured here), the casafekra® team created the furnishing solution that all other outlets are being modelled after. the full-service process of casafekra® typically goes from consulting, to procurement, to execution. and although Ant Ventures are experiencing this full-service process, other clients can, for example, simply request our procurement services.

casafekra Casper & Gambini's

the consulting phase starts when our team adopts the project vision, interprets its concept, and works closely with Ant Ventures and the architecture firm (GCA Architects) to define the right clientele, and design the ideal customer experience.

casafekra Casper & Gambini's

we did say customer ‘experience’ but in reality it’s multiple ‘experiences’. this is because although each food & beverage concept attracts its own clientele, every person within this clientele still has her unique likes and dislikes. this is where casafekra® divides and conquers.

as a result, the intended customer experience is defined for each sub-clientele. then different zones are carefully designed for each intended experience. this allows the casafekra® team to define the types of furniture for each zone. all of this ensures that each zone attracts its unique audience, and serves its own function (coffee & cigar lounge, casual dining, social space, etc.); all while still being true to Casper & Gambini’s customer experience.

casafekra Casper & Gambini's
casafekra Casper & Gambini's

afterwards, the furnishing layout is created so that it’s comfortable for staff and guests alike. problem areas are eliminated (i.e.: problematic entrance, narrow circulation space, tight seating area, etc.) staff workflow is studied and efficiently integrated into the furnishing layout. seating capacity is optimised without compromising the customer experience. furniture styles and designs are defined, and items are hand-picked as well as custom-designed. materials, finishings, colours, textures, and accents are strategically selected.

casafekra Casper & Gambini's

casafekra Casper & Gambini's
casafekra Casper & Gambini's

during the procurement and execution phases, our operations experts ensure that items are sourced, manufactured, delivered, and installed on-site and on time. meticulous planning and logistics ensure excellent execution across the entire process.

finally, all three phases—consulting, procurement, execution—form the full-service furnishing solution of casafekra®.

casafekra Casper & Gambini's

thank you for joining us on this visual journey. if you enjoyed this new format, let us know by replying back, and we’ll include more of our projects in the future.

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divide and conquer

April 15, 2015
by marie murray

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i remember a friend who will not eat anything on her plate if the food groups are touching each other. the carrots can’t touch the chicken. there has to be a space between the rice and the beans.

it drives me crazy. it all combines during digestion anyway. but every time i roll my eyes, she tries to explain herself. “i can’t enjoy each flavor if they all overlap. why would i want to rob myself of tasting what each food has to offer?”

she does have a point. and her quirky eating habits can come in handy when considering the furnishing layout of a public space.

trust me, it’s not as crazy as it seems. let’s say you might want a venue to be a place where families are welcome as well as being a place where individuals can sit undisturbed to do creative work. or maybe you might want to attract teens as well as professionals.

designing and furnishing the whole space to try to cater to different audiences isn’t a great idea. it’ll force you to make compromises; the mood won’t feel right with families, for example, and the space will be too noisy for the professionals. well, the key is to keep your apples separate from your oranges, so to speak.

because most public spaces cater to different audiences, each space needs to attract different personalities and be aware of how each specific audience intends to use the space, all without introducing too much compromise. that’s never easy, even to those experienced with this challenge.

but it can be considerably easier if you keep one rule in mind: divide and conquer.

this means creating different sections in a public space. each section serves the wants and needs of its intended audience, without reducing from the intended experience of the other sections. to divide and conquer, you need to know who your audience is, and how the space is intended to be used.

here are some guidelines to help you better divide and conquer, based on two different way of looking at your audience: demographics and intended use of the space.

looking at your audience through the lens of demographics, the age group of the audience plays a huge part in their preferences. younger guests belonging to generation y are active, social and always on the go. they love quick service, free wifi, low costs and the chance to linger with friends as long as they like.

members of generation x are likely to be raising small kids, and appreciate spaces that are family-friendly. details such as high chair availability, larger tables, separated booths, and buffet options make it clear that a space values children.


larger tables, a flexible layout, and water resistant fabrics are ideal for families.

baby boomers enjoy places that relay elegance and sophistication, but that are also open to families, because many from this generation are starting to become grandparents. living alone baby boomers are the most likely to pay more for a classy experience with excellent quality and a refined atmosphere.


living alone baby boomers appreciate a refined atmosphere.

now let’s look through the lens of the intended use of the space. environments where creative individuals can come to work use high ceilings, large open spaces, and big windows for a positive affect.


high ceilings and blue skies are catalysts to creativity.

for professional settings where clients can hold meetings or run through task lists, try incorporating lower ceilings and adding red tones to bring a subtle sense of urgency and to enhance focus. this is known as negative affect.


warmer tones and restricted vision enhance focus and getting things done.

the furnishing within the space will help set the tone as well. wood is natural and relaxed. metals communicate ambition and importance. fabrics can reinforce a feeling of home.


metals go hand in hand with the fast-paced, independent personality a professional and independent clientele.

it can be a challenge to incorporate various vibes and functions into one space. that’s why it helps to think of my friend’s strange way of eating. she keeps her rice separate from her beans so that she can get the full experience of each distinct taste. go forth now… divide and conquer.

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the table no one wanted to sit at

March 26, 2015
by marie murray

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there once was a lonely table
whose life can serve as a fable
she sat all alone
in her corner zone
and stared at the ceiling cable

but to her unlucky surprise
she found her choice was unwise
the door swung in and out
letting in every shout
all the cold and noise and street cries

her home was an airport café
where people entered all day
they filled each chair
but left hers bare
till she cried to herself in dismay

“well now, this is a riddle!
maybe I’ll just move to the middle!”
thinking this was the best
she waited for guests
…and waited…and started to fiddle

“why me?” she asked her friend table
“because,” he responded, “you smell.
the toilet is there
right past your chair
to eat with you wouldn’t be swell”

when, still no one came around
the little table started to frown
she looked up and saw
most would sit by a wall
her center spot was turned down

she decided to change her fate
and moved next to the entrance gate
she sat near the door
and thought “here! for sure
i’ll be the best table to date!”

“i’m hopeless!” she wanted to say
“this has been such a sad day”
what can I do
to become less blue?
there must be some better way!”

well, you get the point…

the sad story of the unwanted table actually brings up a lot of common mistakes. fortunately, in public spaces, there are ways to minimise problem areas like to those faced by the lonely table.

i interviewed a member of the wait staff at an Italian restaurant. i asked her about her own experience with the table no one wants to sit at. she didn’t even have to think about it long before remembering a handful of scenarios. she told me that guests are quick to notice the tables they don’t want to sit at. if those tables are the only ones available, most prefer to wait for another table to open up. they tend to choose the inconvenience of waiting rather than the inconvenience of sitting at a table in a problem area.

stories like this one, told by wait staff, are easy to remember1 because we have a natural ability to better remember negative feedback over positive ones2. a restaurant manager can use this natural ability of ours to interview wait staff, identify problem areas, then resolve them.

working with a furnishing solutions specialist avoids these problem areas from the start. alternately, a public space owner can try working closely with a design firm to attempt to minimize problem areas. here are some questions that can help with that:

  • how can you make strategic use of undesirable areas? no one wants to sit next to the drafty entrance. no one wants to be too close to the kitchen doors. the table next to the restroom is worse. instead of seating your guests in these zones, try using them as waiting areas or circulation areas. you arrange your setup so that those entering and waiting are not in the way of the guests who are already seated. or set up a partition to keep the dining area separated from the restrooms if the architecture doesn’t already do that.
     
  • often, guests prefer to be seated at the peripheries rather than in the center of the room. this isn’t always avoidable, but can often be minimized by using the center for circulation.
     
  • control the noise level3. public spaces can be enormous sound traps where every clink of glass and busy conversation gets reverberated. this is very likely to bring down the intended experience4. try sound-proofing your space and being minimal with the use of echoing materials, such as glass and mirrors.

what can that lonely little table tell you
to help you bring the best out of your venue?

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do materials have feeling?

February 24, 2015
by marie murray

furnishing materials

imagine yourself transported to the center of Dubai holding a magic wand. your eyes are closed, and you can hear the heartbeat of the city center pulsing around you in the whizzing of the metro, rapid footsteps of pedestrians, and excited conversations in all different languages. the atmosphere is charged with ambition and possibility.

the sole power of your wand is its magic ability to convert all the steel skyscrapers into light wooden beams. you wave your wand, and without opening your eyes, you sense a dramatic mood change occurring. cars quiet down, the urgency subsides, and the general rush settles into a relaxed flow.

what you’ve just witnessed is the effect of wood on human emotion. whether or not we realize it, the materials within our physical environments have their own different languages, which speak to our emotions on a subconscious level.

wood has been shown to help people relax. that’s because wood is associated with the natural environment, and elicits positive, relaxed, peaceful and inviting vibes. for example, guests visiting a restaurant or public space so they can unwind at the end of the day would appreciate a touch of wood.1

on the other end, maybe a space is designed for the fast-paced, independent personality of an urban and professional clientele. in this case,  metals are the way to go. iron, brass, and steel convey strength, independence, and dynamism.2

and in between, what about a creative clientele visiting a space for that spark of inspiration? then fabrics are your friend. they’ve been shown to inspire more creativity and flexibility.3 consider combining them with a hint of wood, as being relaxed has been shown to increase creativity.

the feelings of different materials however, shouldn’t be considered in isolation. the best designs maximize the emotional experience without compromising functionality. for example, there is a casual café i often visit that has two seating areas. the front of the café is bright with round wooden tables. the use of light colored wood reflects the sunlight from the large windows.. this brightly lit space is perfect for active socialising. the use of wooden seats is comfortable for short-term meals, but is intentionally not too conducive to lengthy stays.

towards the back of the venue, there are tall, earth-colored booths with comfortable padded seats. the warm fabrics complement the dimmer lighting. here, it is common to see patrons working on their laptops or having cozy one-on-one conversations.

in these two seating areas, the different furnishing materials work with the overall space to create two distinct settings that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

good design looks at the whole picture. applying this principle in your furnishings can be a major factor contributing to the success of your venue or public space. the next time you’re briefing your designer, you can now emphasize the importance of the choice of materials.

  • what is the tone of each of the materials of my furnishing options? for example, what do metal, wood, plastic, or different fabrics communicate?
  • will the combination of different materials help convey the personality of the concept?
  • if there are two or more different sections in your venue, which materials are best for each space?
  • how do all the materials interact together to contribute the intended experience of your concept or public space?
  • does the choice of materials compromise in any way the intended functionality of the furniture?

the furnishing materials are crucial, but are still only one part of the whole picture. when furniture materials complement the tones set by smaller details such as lighting, color palette and overall vibe, an overall sense of harmony is created. these important reflections can help restaurant owners better coordinate with designers and casafekra® specialists for a selection of furniture and materials that match the concept of the venue.

if you were standing in your restaurant holding that magic wand, what kind of mood would you set?

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do TVs add to the dining experience?

January 22, 2015

by marie murray

when i was younger, i remember learning a piece of dining etiquette from my uncle. he told me that if a guy wants to take a girl on a date, he should always allow the girl to take the seat at the table with the greater view of the room.

if the table is in a corner, for example, the polite thing for him to do is to choose the chair facing the walls, so that she becomes the center of his undivided vision.

i forgot all about this dating memo until recently, when i found myself going out to eat in a restaurant with several large TV screens hovering at just the right altitude and angles to ensure everyone’s easy viewing access. throughout the evening, our conversations would stop as our eyes continually drifted away from each other and towards the images flashing across the screen.

the presence of TV screens in restaurant settings has now become widespread enough that it would seem almost strange to complain about. and yet, when you think about it, the presence of a TV screen seems to contradict the very purpose of most restaurants. the whole concept of dining out is typically meant to provide:

  • a chance to spend time with people over a meal and enjoy the company
  • seating and furniture layout set up to facilitate conversation
  • food prepared for you that is often different from what you’re used to

why is it then, that TVs have become such a common feature within restaurants?

a number of studies1 show that people tend to snack more and eat larger portions if they are sitting in front of the TV. the reason for this is obvious. if people are distracted while eating, they are less mindful of how much they are consuming, and less aware of the signals that the body sends when it is full. perhaps the restaurant industry has taken note of this and realized that customers are prone to consume more when there is a TV present.

a recent study has been conducted on a restaurant that had been receiving poor reviews for the past several years. to best understand why their customers seemed less satisfied than before, the restaurant compared the practices of 2004 with those of 2014. the findings were fascinating.

the only significant difference between the two years was that the 2014 consumers owned smart phones. the 2014 customers were constantly on their phones, asking the waiting staff to take photos, and lingering over text messages and social media. they ended up staying for almost double the time compared to the 2004 customers, and left feeling less satisfied with the overall experience. because they were likely not aware that their smart phones were the problem, they blamed the restaurant. you may wonder what this study has to do with TVs and dining.

the point here is that while considering the concept of your restaurant, you may want to draw up a cost-benefit analysis. there is a good chance that TVs will increase your total revenue, but there may also be the risk that customer satisfaction will decrease.

of course there are certain venues where a TV is very important to the concept. many restaurants or pubs for example, provide a place to meet up with a group of friends to watch a football match. some restaurants show music videos that appeal to a certain age group and add to the ambiance of the environment. in these cases, the concept is meant to provide a space that allows groups of friends, colleagues, or even strangers to unite over a shared entertainment experience, and enjoy some food and beverage in the meantime. a TV is a vital addition to this environment.

as you are thinking about the concept of your dining space, there are some helpful questions you might want to ask.

  • is the aims to facilitate pleasant conversation amongst diners, or is it to offer customers a place to view a sports game together?
  • does the overall revenue increase brought by TVs outweigh the potential decrease in consumer ratings?
  • will your customers’ attention be pulled away from the quality and taste of the food?
  • if you decide that a TV fits well with the concept of your venue, how can you design your seating and furniture layout to maximize the customers’ experience?
  • if your aim is to bring friends together to watch, for example, a world cup game, are there other times during the day when it is beneficial to keep the TV turned off?

whether or not my uncle’s tip has become outdated, he still makes a good point about the purpose of the dining experience. when consumers are unable to focus on the people they are with, chances are everyone will probably leave feeling less than satisfied. this is where well planned dining concept can help everyone involved to have a richer experience, whether it is through pleasant conversation, or the feeling of shared solidarity that comes from watching an exciting match together.

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can you list the primary food concepts in the F&B industry?

November 21, 2014

by william choukeir

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in ‘the first encounter‘ we asked a question. but before we get into that, let’s take a step back and explore the importance of food concepts in delighting—but not surprising—guests.

the other day, my family and I were walking down a street filled with restaurants. we were in the mood for Lebanese cuisine. we spot a place with a nice outdoor area and a beautiful ambience. we noticed the traditional wooden chairs and that virtually every table had a shisha. the dispersed olive trees were beautiful. it took us exactly one minute to unanimously agree on this restaurant.

we were greeted and seated by a friendly and helpful young man. he hands us the menus and goes to greet a new group. it’s at this point that we notice that something is off. Hamburgers, pizzas, fish, steaks, salads, soups. It took a brief conversation with our waiter to confirm our disappointment. They don’t serve Lebanese cuisine.

we felt deceived, but stayed, not out of politeness, but because we didn’t want to spend the evening scouting places. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that neither one of us will step in that place again.

that restaurant had ‘unknowingly’ created the false impression of a Lebanese restaurant: the choice of furniture, the ambiance, the olive trees, the shishas, and even the signage.

this is a costly mistake. the solution starts with being aware that anything restaurant guests see communicates something. the challenge is to ensure that what is communicated is in line with the food concept. few individuals or companies can accurately do that, but for starters one can clearly communicate the intended food concept and experience with the architect, the interior designer, the graphic designer, and the furniture solutions provider. then meticulously coordinating between these entities while asking: ‘does the first impression of my guests match with my intended food concept? and does the ongoing experience match that first impression?’

a good start is having a broad understanding of primary food concepts and what makes each different. although the type of food plays a role, it’s not the only criteria that determines a food concept. let’s now take a look at what these primary food concepts1 are:

ethnic restaurants:

although most food concepts revolve around specific foods, ethnic restaurants are instead related to foods from a certain culture. Restaurants that provide local (Mediterranean) cuisine would arguably go into this category, and are popular in the region. other popular cuisines are Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Armenian, Mexican, French, and Thai. these concepts can range from delivery-only, to fast-food, to upscale restaurants with a wide variety of menu items.

pizzerias:

a pizzeria is technically Italian, but deserves it’s own category because of the popularity of Pizza as a food type. within this category, you’ll find a range that starts as simple pizza-only restaurants with limited seating. These could be franchises, or single location pizzerias. At the upper end of the range you’ll find full-service pizzerias with spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna, and side dishes and deserts. Of course the intersection between a pizzeria and an Italian restaurant is considerable, but the one difference that sets both apart is whether the primary message is ‘pizza’ or ‘italian’. this is often determined through branding, signage, ambiance, the menu, and marketing.

themed restaurants:

while other food concepts focus on the food, themed restaurants are theme-oriented. naturally, you’ll find a wide diversity of foods, and these offer the widest appeal to most age groups and families. the theme is often engrained into the decor, menus, branding, and marketing. the atmosphere is comfortable, and the prices are affordable.

family-style restaurants:

families may often frequent themed restaurants, however, family-style restaurants have unique differences that make them more attractive to families and seniors:
– high chairs for children
– baby seats
– larger tables
– separated booths as opposed to open spaces
– all you can eat offerings (i.e. salad bars)
– table service
– and generally prices that fall in between fast-food restaurants, and casual-dining restaurants

sandwich Shops:

sandwich shops generally enjoy high profit margins. flexibility in the menu is also one of their biggest advantage. menus can quickly change to follow trends—like health-food trends. cost of ingredients and preparation is often lower than other food concepts. couple that with quick delivery and take-out, and you get a cost efficient business.

seafood:

seafood places range between franchised fast-food that offers fried seafood, to upscale restaurants with fresh high-quality ingredients. for these upscale restaurants, this can be a relatively risky choice because of the seasonal nature of seafood, and loose quality control over suppliers in some countries in the region.

steakhouses:

most steakhouses in the region fall under the upscale category. western themes are often—but not always—emphasized. quality of meat can vary, but price is usually a good indicator. keeping that in mind when pricing the menu helps create the intended impression for guests. although family-oriented steakhouses may be common elsewhere, those in the region are more geared towards providing a fine-dining experience.

coffeehouses:

coffeehouses have evolved into spaces where friends meet, into public mobile offices for professionals, and into quick-lunch stops. most successful coffeehouses are often located in high foot-traffic areas, and depend on high customer turnover for their modest seating capacity; usually because of the high cost of real-estate in high-traffic locations. despite the profit margins for coffee being high, the average bill is considerably lower compared to other food concepts. that’s why driving high-turnover is a vital component to the success of the business.

bakeries:

Although bread-only bakeries have almost disappeared, there seems to be an uprising of bakeries that offer a wide selection of bread, pastries, cakes, biscuits, and even sandwiches and pizza. young local franchises are quickly opening shops in multiple locations, and the market seems to be getting competitive. this raises the barrier to entry for newcomers, and invites creative ways to differentiate themselves. in this category, you’ll also find smaller niche bakeries that focus—for example—on french pastries.

of course, in the highly competitive food and beverage industry, hybrids between two or more food concepts are emerging.

you can avoid creating the wrong expectations for guests, all while delighting them without surprising them. among others, furniture plays a big role in creating the first impression and the dining experience as a whole.

your furniture-solutions specialist should suggest coordinating with your architect, interior designer, and even graphic designer or agency; this results in a furnishing solution that reinforces your food concept.

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Reference:

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is your F&B business attracting the wrong age group?

October 31, 2014

by william choukeir

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it’s saturday evening. the air is nice. three of us are walking towards the entrance of a mall. i catch myself wondering. why is virtually everyone shorter than me? and i’m technically short.

my eyes start curiously looking for patterns. which only lasts for 1/10th of a second. we’re surrounded by teenagers. the streets are saturated with them. so are the sidewalks. some are standing in the middle of the street, oblivious to the passing traffic.

we parked two minutes away, and yet it takes us 7 minutes of wading through teenagers to get to the entrance. not fun. and then something curious happens.

groups of kids are being asked by security to either leave the mall, or go stand somewhere else. one group approaches the entrance and is refused entry.

that gets me wondering. why is this happening? thinking to myself, i realize that one likely answer is this:

unknowingly, that mall created an ideal environment for teenagers. realizing that this volume of young visitors is affecting the ‘experience’ of their intended clientele, they enlist the help of security personnel.

a more elegant way of solving this problem is to ask: ‘what is it in this environment that’s attracting a younger audience? and what can we do to change that?’

although this story may be an extreme case, it is a real story nonetheless. i’m sure some of you have had similar experiences with other public spaces. from conversations with the casafekra team, i know that more than a handful of food & beverage businesses have similarly wondered: ‘why is the wrong age group frequenting my business?’

this article attempts to answer that question.

studies show (1) that specific age-groups expect specific environments. understanding the expectation of each age group, helps food & beverage businesses avoid unintentionally creating environments that attract the wrong crowd.

let’s look at each age group and the environment that attracts them (1):

generation y : born 1980-2000

  • They consider eating out as ‘everyday’ food rather than a luxury.
  • They don’t have as much to spend when eating out compared to older generations. This makes them value low prices, and are more responsive to discounts and offers.
  • They would rather go for a place that’s closer to home or work.
  • They expect great services and would rarely return to a place that fell short in this regard.
  • They favor fast-food and quick service items. Most frequented locations are burger places, followed by pizza places.
  • They have little tolerance for boredom. This makes them love places that allow them to easily go online while they eat.
  • They prefer places that make them feel that they’re welcome to stay as long as they like.

generation x : born 1965-1979

  • This generation values family, and are likely to focus on spending time with their children.
  • They prefer places that make them feel that they’re getting the best value for their money. All you can eat salad bars are a great example of this.
  • They prefer a comfortable environment with an active ambiance.

baby boomers : born 1946-1964

  • This generation holds a large percentage of professionals who can afford upscale restaurants.
  • They’re willing to spend money freely.
  • Many from this generation are entering grandparenthood, and prefer upscale restaurants that are family friendly.

living alone baby boomers

  • These are the upper end of the Baby Boomers generation where their no longer have children or grandchildren living with them (50-64 years old)
  • These have amongst the highest spending power between all generations and are not concerned with price.
  • They prefer upscale restaurants that provide a formal dining experience.
  • Their priority is excellent service and outstanding food.
  • Elegant and sophisticated spaces attract this generation.

seniors : 65+ years

  • The majority are on a fixed income and gravitate towards family friendly restaurants because they can get good value for their money.
  • Some are concerned with their health and would frequent places that can cater to special diets.
  • Since they have a smaller appetite, they appreciate smaller portions for less money.

which age-groups do you want to include?
which age-groups do you want to elegantly exclude?
casafekra® can handle the rest.

 


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Reference:
(1) J. Lynn, Start Your Own Restaurant and More: Pizzeria, Cofeehouse, Deli, Bakery, Catering Business

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