Pandemic Design: Ingredients for a Successful Post-Covid Restaurant

This is the first in a series of case studies exploring design concepts to meet the challenging business conditions posed by the pandemic. Our work was done in conjunction with NEWH – The Hospitality Industry Network — and published as part of their special issue magazine, “Beyond Covid-19”. This project, BBQ Thyme, is an adaptive re-use renovation which houses a restaurant as well as two small grow operations — one located on the roof beneath a retractable canopy and the other in a solarium adjacent to the dining room.

We determined early on to make human interaction the key component to this concept in order for a restaurant to remain a successful neighborhood hub. We also realized that our solution would need to exemplify ease, comfort and provide the necessity of human socialization while acknowledging the importance of social distancing. For this exploratory project, we asked ourselves, how would an urban, casual, green-barbeque restaurant activate, cultivate and operate with human interaction being at the core? To address these challenges, we first determined five ingredients that would serve as the foundation to the solution: Carry-Out & Delivery, Retail & Reinvent, Technology & Flow, Human & Humble, Green & Grow.

Carry-out + Delivery

Our design emphasizes indoor and outdoor pick-up options, providing a pick-up window to assist customers who are not comfortable entering the restaurant and a large carry-out room which offers a visual connection to those who choose to dine in.

Retail + Reinvent

With this ingredient we look to push the restaurant concept beyond just food service and look to reinvent their market by retailing their sauces, dry-rubs, and even bottled cocktails.

Technology + Flow

This ingredient provides the solution of a seamless yet socially distanced human interaction. By integrating touchless technology at the ordering kiosks and checkout stations, guests and staff are reducing the number of touch points between one another.

The circulation paths through the restaurant were carefully developed for efficiency as well as to minimize crossed paths between guests and staff.


Human + Humble

Through this ingredient we nurture our connection to the palpable environment by highlighting the use of natural light and natural air circulation. Additionally, we have provided various experiences to meet individual levels of comfort by allowing for a connection to others, whether physically sharing the same experience or visually connecting through the layering of spaces.

Green + Grow

By taking cues from biophilia design which seeks to connect the occupants more closely with nature, our design utilizes plant integration through space separations and cues for directional flow. Additionally, this adaptive reuse project houses two indoor gardens promoting the growth of ingredients to supplement spice mixes, side dishes or as garnishes.

Our five ingredients nurture the restaurant concept to become a communal hub for the locals on which they depend. All of the ingredients were crafted with the main component of human interaction in mind. By keeping the human interaction at the core and the soul, the restaurant is able to provide the same level of service through well thought out design solutions that address the current challenging restaurant business conditions.