We’ve known Richard Garcia for many years in his roll as an executive chef for a large multi-national workplace catering company and we’d worked on many projects together. When Richard decided the time was right to open his own High Street operation we were delighted when he asked us to help on the interior design, procurement and statutory consents aspects of the project.
It was a pleasure to work on this project as Richard’s aspirations, product values and insistence on the provenance of his ingredients push all the right buttons for us.
Working with his wife and business partner Janet Cook, Richard had allocated a realistic budget for this new start-up. However, making the best use of any existing fixtures and fittings was an important consideration in terms of gaining maximum value for the investment and minimising the carbon footprint. It was determined that the existing shop front could be retained with some cosmetic work and that the ceiling and some lighting could be adapted to the new use without any compromise to the concept.
Janet and Richard’s aspiration was to offer the local community a high quality artisan food offer, consisting of a changing hot sandwich offer, soups and a broad range of freshly prepared sandwiches, using excellent breads and fillings, all accompanied by a premium fair-trade beverage selection.
The design brief was essentially to provide an interior that would support this concept in its execution.
• Layout – the width of the shop precluded a full width counter running across the shop (Pret style), so we opted for a hockey stick layout along the left hand wall. This puts the tills near the front door so that customers are immediately interacting with the staff.
• A small selection of customer seating near the front provides an eat-in option that is being taken up on a regular basis and signals that you are invited to stay a while.
• Details & finishes – the style of the interior and selection of finishes is targeted to support the food offer, drawing inspiration from natural materials, which endorse the provenance of the offer.
• The general ambience reflects our belief that in this type of outlet the food is the star of the show. The graphics are the chorus and the interior in many ways should be recessive, but supportive.
• Lighting – while some of the existing lighting was retained, generally we installed new, efficient lighting with good colour rendering capabilities to give a generally warm, friendly ambience.
Cook & Garcia has been trading successfully for a few weeks now. A good level of business to start with is being built on, week by week, on word of mouth referrals, based on giving consistently high levels of quality, value and service.
Janet & Richard’s vision of providing a high quality service to the local community is being realised. In many respects, what they have achieved represents the future, where we believe that there will be a resurgence of locally owned food service businesses, which promote in turn local produce with an established provenance.