New Yorkers like me have a compelling need. We need casual eateries for a cup of coffee or a beer, a bite to eat, or a cozy place to getaway from the daily chaotic pace of the city. These are places where we can be comfortably alone, with family or with friends.
I’ve watched the evolution of these eateries which has been driven by creative eatery entrepreneurs. Over the years, some have grown to become well known chains – Au Bon Pan, Starbucks, Panera, Shake Shack and Le Pain Quotidien. The succession is marked not only by improving cuisine, but also by increasing comfort.
We have contributed much to the casual restaurant design for the food/drink/ community evolution. In fact, I was even the founder of Newsbar back in the early 1990s, a high-end coffee bar and retail space with a sleek NYC experience (way before Starbucks took the city by storm.)
Newsbar used glass facade transparency and industrial materials to reinvent the urban community meeting space. The main counter was poured concrete atop a translucent fiberglass panel and the floor, like a city sidewalk, is also made of poured concrete. Throughout the space, raw materials were used as a counterpoint to enhance the products and the polished, industrial beauty of the coffee equipment, as well as the colorful allure of international magazines. Because of these factors, TCA was able to create an open ambiance for Newsbar – uniquely New York, different from the imported shabby chic or faux Provence styles. We encouraged our customers to sit,read and find community in the shared gourmet coffee and huge array of publications. Ultimately I sold Newsbar in order to focus on my growing architectural practice, but not before it had grown to multiple locations around the city. Newsbar was a truly unique cafe which helped pave the way for many others to come.
City Bakery – An Urban Casual Eatery Design
From the moment you first entered City Bakery it was obvious that this is not your typical neighborhood bake shop. The owner and Chef approached us with a well-formed, unique vision. To begin, the ever challenging narrow space which many NYC retailers must endure, was given a coolly sophisticated yet witty ambiance. A minimalist interior style was balanced by playful design elements. True to the owner’s conception, everyday items and industrial materials were utilized in new ways. An all-glass front revealed a series of white cardboard cake boxes hung in a grid-like pattern along the bakery’s main 40 foot wall. Our signature satellite tables, (black steel tables with revolving stools) provided a great place to enjoy a scone. Large bolts were used as coat hooks and menu holders. A roll of butcher paper attached to the wall scrolled down to list the day’s specials. Translucent, exterior-grade fiberglass panels separated the kitchen from the public space.
Our detailing reinforced the bakers commitment to elegant simplicity. Cakes and pastries, remarkable for their exquisite shapes and fresh color, were showcased in innovative display units that we designed. Metal plates extended or dropped from graceful stainless steel arms that rose up at varying heights. Cakes positioned on the plates appeared to float in space, Magritte-like. Pendant television studio lights focus on the bakery selections. With City Bakery, architecture and culinary artistry combine to present each confection as a work of art.
Haven’s Kitchen – A Hub for Sustainable Eating, Cooking & Community
Haven’s Kitchen is one of Turett’s s more recent projects. We converted a 3-story turn-of-the century Manhattan carriage house into a hub for sustainable cooking and eating. It includes a professional teaching kitchen, retail space, catering/bar facilities and a rooftop chicken coop. Called Haven’s Kitchen, we found our own inspiration after completing this space. The entire Turett team attended a pasta cooking class. Yes, we learned to cook. Better yet, we enjoyed what we created….with a little helpf of more than a few bottles of wine.