Social Eatery & Bar at Knysna Hollow
From Concept & Branding to Reality
(or, How to Build a Restaurant and Lose Sleep for a Year)
I would like to share the incredibly exciting and intimidating process of building a restaurant from scratch. From the physical process of designing the space and deciding on décor to coming up with a brand identity and concept that echoed the atmosphere we wanted to create – all in the space of 15 months.
Our previous restaurant at Knysna Hollow was destroyed by fire in June 2017 and we made the decision to rebuild, but in a far more contemporary manner than previously. The process of imagining and creating our new restaurant, as a part of the greater hotel environment in which it operates, consisted of various stages.
Stage 1 – Spatial Planning
When an architect asks you to ‘sketch’ a rough layout of the imagined space you think you need to accommodate the number of chairs & tables you think you need to seat the amount of customers you think you need to be able to seat, there are many, many other factors to consider. The size of your kitchen and back-of-house areas are as important as how long your bar counter needs to be or how many public toilets you’re required to have by law.
To this end, we enlisted the help of Collaboration, a commercial interior design company based in Cape Town, who helped us with our spatial planning and some initial design concepts – here’s the first drawing they did for us of our Bar Area:
Stage 2 – Design Concepts
Once you think you have enough floor area to create a space in which staff can work effectively and in which guests can relax and enjoy their food and drink, thoughts turn toward how the space is going to look, a rather crucial consideration and one which offers a terrifying amount of choice. Collaboration provided us with some initial sketches to see how the space could potentially look, see below for a concept sketch of the same space featured in the floor plan above:
Stage 3 – Brand Identity & Design Elements
While making sure we had enough space and deciding on how our various areas were actually going to look, we also needed to come up with a brand identity for the restaurant & bar, not a simple thing to do. We needed a name and a logo that would mirror the space we were trying to create – an identity that would be casual and approachable, yet refined and modern at the same time. A place without pretension which our customers could appreciate.
After many, many hours of research and amazing design input from Nadine at Blue Hue Designs, we decided upon the name ‘Social Eatery’ and below are some initial logo designs that we tried out in the beginning of this process:
Many changes and tweaks later, we settled on a logo and various design elements which could be used in different applications as follows:
Stage 4 – Implementation
Deciding on spaces, décor, brand design and identity is one half of getting the project complete. The other half is getting it all implemented and by this we mean:
– Physically constructing the building – a process which always takes longer and costs more than expected!
– Deciding on all finishes – lighting, flooring, paint colors, joinery – most people have rather different opinions on what looks best so consensus can be elusive.
– Ordering furniture, glassware, crockery, uniforms, kitchen equipment and all the other tools required to operate a fully-functioning food and beverage operation.
– Designing menus & wine lists – with content that can actually be sourced and produced consistently by your kitchen team, 3 shifts per day, 7 days per week and especially when you have over 100 people for dinner.
– Recruiting competent staff and training them to be able to work under pressure in a new environment while projecting a calm and welcoming demeanor at all times.
This is where the sleepless nights come in – with so much to think of and schedule and with only a vague idea of what the finished product will look like, one’s brain literally does not stop working.
In the end, our finished product looks fantastic and the response from our guests has been overwhelmingly positive – Social Eatery & Bar has turned out far better than expected – have a look at the finished product below:
For restaurant reservations at Social Eatery & Bar please call +27 44 382 5401, email email@example.com or book online here. We look forward to welcoming you to the new Knysna Hollow Country Estate.