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Delicious Design: Imagining Some of the City’s Favorite Restaurant Spaces

 Delicious Design: Imagining Some of the City’s Favorite Restaurant Spaces

Madison’s stellar food reputation is no longer a secret—it’s frequently cited as a great foodie town, and Midwest Living even called it one of the “Greatest Midwest Food Towns” in 2017. Heck—even chef Tory Miller, owner of Graze, L’Etoile, Sujeo and Estrellon—will be featured on an upcoming Iron Chef Showdown episode!

But there’s more that goes into a restaurant than just great food—the kitchen and dining spaces need to function seamlessly for a happy staff and excellent customer experience. Sketchworks Architecture has designed some of the city’s most well-known eateries, so we talked to project manager Kirk Biodrowski about the dish behind some of our restaurant clients.


Q: Tell us about some of Sketchwork’s restaurant projects.

Kirk Biodrowski: We worked on Roast Public House, which is a bar and restaurant on State Street that serves gourmet comfort food. They were looking for a refined industrial look that incorporated sustainable materials.


Forage Kitchen is a restaurant on State Street that serves health-conscious foods like salads, bowls and fresh-pressed juices. They wanted a design that was emblematic of the freshness of the food, and were looking for a design that was in line with chic restaurants you would find in larger cities.


Mr Brews Taphouse is a bar and restaurant chain with multiple locations in several states and they specialize in a large beer menu. Each restaurant’s design aesthetic varies, but the overall theme is a hip design that utilizes industrial materials.


Pasqual’s Cantina is a well-known Madison restaurant that serves Southwest cuisine. Their latest location is in a historic building along East Washington Avenue, and the design aesthetic gave a nod to the historic nature of the building while still conveying the Southwest flavor of their menu.


Ian’s Pizza By the Slice, a pizza restaurant on State Street, wanted a gritty rock ’n roll aesthetic for their space.


Q: Why do clients tell you they select Sketchworks for their restaurant spaces?

KB: One reason is the experience we have. Restaurant design is unique, and takes knowledge to understand all of the requirements to make a business successful from a design perspective. Another reason is our design ability—we’ve created many beautiful spaces. We’re also used to working with tight budgets, and we really listen and work well with clients. Because of that, we have a number of repeat restaurant clients with whom we have formed strong bonds.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that comes with restaurant design?

KB: Any successful restaurant requires great work flow. The kitchen, bar and dining areas must all be situated to optimize the traffic patterns of the employees as well as be comfortable and create a great atmosphere for the patrons. Other big challenges can be the layout of the kitchen, and where to run the exhaust for the vent hood.


Q: What trends are you seeing in restaurant design?

KB: Though each restaurant, owner and space limitations are different, there has been a trend towards an urban design aesthetic like you’d find in New York City or Chicago. There is a higher competition in the marketplace [here for] restaurants. The owners want the space’s atmosphere to reflect the higher standard of their menus.


Q: Which space was a favorite of yours to work on?

KB: Probably the one I am most proud of is Roast Public House. I loved working with the owners of this restaurant—we seemed to click when it came to the final vision of the space. Plus, we won two design awards for the space, one from In Business magazine and another from the International Interior Design Association Wisconsin chapter, where we won best of competition.


Q: A benefit of working with all of these restaurants is surely the food—what’s a choice dish for you from one of your clients?

KB: I really like the pulled pork sandwich with sweet potato fries at Roast Public House.