Aria Group Blog

Aria Favorites: Quarantine Cookbook

11/13/2020 at 5:23 pm

Quarantine Chocolate Chip Cookies – photo by Megan Walsh Calling all bakers! Whether you’re a seasoned baker, a new COVID baker, or even someone who hates baking –  listen up. One of the very first images that comes to mind when thinking of the word “dessert” is a chocolate chip cookie. From the store-bought, to […]

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Aria Favorites: Quarantine Cookbook

11/06/2020 at 10:29 am

Quarantine Cookbook: Quinoa Burger – photo by Lauren Oldenburg. Recipe & photos by Half Baked Harvest Something that we have all tried to focus on throughout the pandemic is sprucing up our cooking skills and trying to be more experimental in the kitchen. It can be daunting to try new foods. Lots of people stick […]

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Sustainability: Summary of the Series

10/29/2020 at 12:53 pm

We’d like to wrap up our Sustainability Series by providing a quick overview of the things we discussed, as well as leaving you with our promise to continue to research and post about ways to develop more sustainable practices as consumers and designers. We mentioned this throughout the series, but it’s important to recognize that […]

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Sustainability: Waste as a Resource

10/22/2020 at 8:59 am

un–cooked photography by Kevin Hartmann/ Sterling Bay Welcome to another installment in our Sustainability series! This one is wordy, but we promise it’s worth it! In this week’s post, we wanted to touch on ways to reduce waste in our own lives, as well as a look into some businesses who have taken post-consumer waste […]

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Sustainability: Pursuit of a Circular Economy

10/15/2020 at 8:56 am

Plant Chicago’s weekly farmer’s market participants In our post about Farm-to-Table restaurants, we asked you to put a pin in the term “circular economy”. At the heart of the businesses we honed in on rests the desire to further invest and participate in this concept. For this installment, we will focus on the start and […]

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Sustainability: Expanding Farm-to-Table

10/09/2020 at 11:14 am

Tortazo by Rick Bayless It is apparent that we as designers, professionals, consumers, and humans are at the precipice of a global economic call to action. Choices we make can and will affect future generations in a lasting and critical way. It is our job to invest in educating ourselves on the ways we can […]

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Chicago Winter Dining Challenge

09/24/2020 at 2:54 pm

Winter Dining Challenge – Group of Pods You know those early days of September when there is slight chill in the air? The days that make you want to run to Target to buy out their entire fall décor section?  Yeah, we love those days. For us, as designers and patrons of the restaurants in […]

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Aria Favorites: Quarantine Cookbook

09/16/2020 at 12:09 pm

Lilly’s Panna Cotta – photo by Lilly Reyes-Brahar We love everything about restaurants — we love designing restaurants, sharing the dining experience with friends and family, and trying new food. We also love to cook and share the food with our team.  As an office we frequently have social events through out the year that […]

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Designer Tips: Promoting Safety in Design

09/10/2020 at 5:38 pm

Topgolf Glendale – photography Michael Baxter As our society continues to practice social distancing, design experts are looking into the future by strategizing ways to administer safe and functional design practices – promoting safety in design. Highlighting several “anti-spread” design practices, we break down some materials, finishes, and furniture that promote health and safety by […]

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Parklets + the Evolved Patio

09/01/2020 at 1:54 pm

During a summer in Chicago, you will typically find restaurant patios filled with people out enjoying the warm weather. Early in the season, state restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic kept us indoors. Fortunately, as restrictions lifted, we have been able to venture out to visit our favorite patio spaces, while safely social distancing. This […]

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Pandemic Design: Looking to the Future of Restaurant Design

08/20/2020 at 4:36 pm

  The final post in our series of Pandemic design case studies, where we explore 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”. Imagine a not […]

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Pandemic Design: Summary of Series

08/20/2020 at 4:36 pm

Since November 2019, the world has had a swift and sudden shift to board up their doors and stay isolated from COVID-19.  Amid the panic brought by the pandemic, the hospitality industry has been hit hard – especially restaurants. The passionate individuals providing these services are a cornerstone of our cultural and social interactions. It […]

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Pandemic Design: A New City Streetscape

08/17/2020 at 9:26 am

This is the second 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”. As we have struggled through months of […]

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Pandemic Design: Ingredients for a Successful Post-Covid Restaurant

08/12/2020 at 7:00 am

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 […]

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Aria Group: Training with Purpose

07/31/2020 at 8:05 am

Seems like only yesterday I was a wide-eyed intern right out of school, thinking I knew pretty much everything. I quickly learned school taught me just enough to land my first internship. I learned more in my first six months of on the job training at Aria Group than I did in the prior five […]

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Masks On Doors Open: How Does It Look?

05/29/2020 at 10:28 am

Dirty Root, Chicago, IL As you have seen in our past blog entries we have discussed what options are out there for restaurants as they look toward the “new normal”.  As the hospitality world grapples with the changes necessary to reopen in a post-epidemic environment, how can restaurant design create spaces that feel more inviting, […]

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Masks On Doors Open: A Summary of the Series

05/27/2020 at 12:31 pm

We hope you are enjoying the Masks On Doors Open series, and that it is bringing you some useful information. If you’d like to revisit what you’ve read previously, or if you are just finding it for the first time, here’s a recap of all of the posts so far: Strategizing the New Normal Over […]

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Mask On Doors Open: Your Table is Ready

05/19/2020 at 5:00 pm

One question on the minds of all retailers and restaurateurs: How do we create an environment to allow for business to flow as usual, while making a safe space that customers feel comfortable in? With social distancing becoming the norm for the foreseeable future, restaurants are forced to change their philosophy from maximizing occupancy to […]

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Masks On Doors Open: Night Out For Now

05/12/2020 at 7:47 pm

Del Frisco’s San Diego As state governments lift shelter in place orders, there will be many new challenges facing restaurateurs when doors reopen. Our hope is to share potential adjustments within the restaurant to positively affect human interaction making the health of patrons and employees a top consideration. We believe that with intentional design restaurants […]

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Designer Tips: Home Work Stations

05/11/2020 at 11:58 am

During the coronavirus pandemic, many companies are requiring employees to work from home. For many, this unanticipated transition can be challenging to separate work and personal. Those who are not accustomed to regularly working remotely can have a hard time locating an organized work station in their home, which can cause distraction and ultimately disrupt […]

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Masks On Doors Open: Creative Change

05/08/2020 at 4:26 pm

Covid-19 is redefining ‘creativity’ as we strategize to meet standards of the new normal. As restaurants begin to come out of the downturn, not only will they need to reduce patron capacity, but most likely will be on a limited budget. Efficiency in operational costs will be at the forefront in the short term, while […]

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Masks On Doors Open: Paving the Way

05/05/2020 at 11:07 am

Parking Lot Transformations  As states continue to reboot their economies, and with warmer weather on the horizon, we have been thinking about what would make patrons feel comfortable heading back into the restaurant scene. Viral transmission rates are lower outdoors, and many restaurants have extra outdoor space that could be converted to more profitable use. […]

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Masks On Doors Open: Strategizing for the New Normal

05/01/2020 at 8:12 pm

Pono Ono Poke – Evanston, IL  photography Emilia Czader Over our 30+ years in business, Aria Group has seen dining trends come and go, but we have never seen changes brought about so quickly as with the Covid-19 pandemic. It has got us thinking about how we, as designers, can help lead the charge to […]

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Supporting the Restaurant World

04/23/2020 at 8:31 pm

Shake Shack – Cleveland, OH  Photography – Emilia Czader Restaurants and bars serve a vital function in our everyday social interactions. With shelter-in-place orders, people are adapting and finding new and inventive ways to connect while socially isolating. Even with restraints on public gatherings, there are still many opportunities to support your favorite local eating […]

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Walter’s Favorites:  Takeout & Delivery

04/09/2020 at 11:12 am

Our home city of Chicago has a food and beverage scene that rivals any city in the world.  With the current crisis and shelter in place restrictions, our friends and clients in the restaurant industry have pivoted and focused their energy on takeout and delivery business.  We have been very impressed with the creative ideas […]

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Social Responsibility: Everyone Needs Good Design

10/24/2019 at 3:41 pm

Social responsibility at Aria Group means community involvement. Volunteers from Aria Group have been busy working on many projects over the last few years to help meet some of the needs of our community. In addition to supporting the community, our involvement allowed for greater inter-office collaboration and for individuals to explore roles outside of […]

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Aria Group Received NEWH TOP ID Award

08/16/2019 at 3:20 pm

NEWH Top ID Award The Chicago Chapter of NEWH, The Hospitality Industry Network, recently recognized Aria Group as a Top Interior Design Firm for the third year running. The NEWH Top ID award recognizes design firms who are active in their local NEWH chapter, make significant contributions to hospitality design and who practice design excellence. Megan […]

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Limitless Coffee–Designed to Inspire

07/03/2019 at 4:07 pm

Creating an Uplifting Space Limitless Coffee & Tea founder, Matt Matros, believes that drinking a “clean” beverage leaves one feeling healthy and motivated. Therefore, the company’s goal is to inspire people by fueling them with clean caffeine. To reach this goal, Limitless sought to develop their own coffee products unlike anything previously on the market. […]

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Aria Group on CBS This Morning

05/10/2019 at 10:46 am

It’s no secret that sound makes a huge impact on the dining experience, yet many restaurants don’t adequately address acoustic design.  Typically, sound levels are only noticed when they aren’t appropriate for the setting.  Aria Group’s designers keep acoustics top of mind. Acoustic design is especially important in energetic dining areas where many conversations happen […]

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Bar Sotano – Inspired by Mezcal

04/04/2019 at 10:25 am

The design challenge: A Oaxacan-inspired speakeasy Rick and Lanie Bayless and the team at Frontera Restaurant Group asked us to reinvent the basement space below Frontera Grill.  They envisioned a Oaxacan-inspired speakeasy with small plates, mezcal forward cocktails, and youthful vivacity. Aria was tasked with emulating the mezcal-making process in the built environment. Therefore we […]

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Aria Group Architects Celebrates 30 Years

02/15/2019 at 2:27 pm

30 years ago Walt, Joe, Kathy and I started Aria Group in my home in Oak Park so we could “do our own thing”. We not only made a big first step in our own lives but were destined to affect 1,000’s of others in many ways. Over the years, we have had the pleasure […]

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Topgolf Rolls Out a New Design

11/07/2018 at 4:10 pm

As the Topgolf brand evolves we would expect nothing less of the building than to do the same. Topgolf is a state-of-the-art golf, entertainment, and social gathering place that combines an exciting gaming experience with an upscale dining atmosphere.  At its core, Topgolf exists to entertain every guest through energy and passion with a commitment […]

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Leon is coming to the U.S.

08/13/2018 at 5:45 pm

Leon – the future of fast food – is coming from the UK to the States!  Aria teamed up with longtime partners, Fran McDonald (a restauranteur known for importing British concepts) and Herman Stewart Construction to open Leon’s first location in Washington DC. At Leon, their mission is “to help make it easier for everyone […]

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Promotion Announcement: Megan Walsh

04/10/2018 at 4:24 pm

Aria Group is pleased to announce the promotion of Megan Walsh to Associate, from Project Designer. Megan started with Aria Group in 2002 when she was an Architectural Technician and an Architectural Designer. From 2005-2010 she lived in California where she gained further experience. Upon returning to the Chicago area in 2010, she started at […]

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New Look, Same Great Design That Delivers

08/15/2017 at 10:35 pm

Aria Group is excited to announce the new evolution of our brand. Our business has seen tremendous growth since our founding. Our success in assembling an amazing staff inspired us to clarify what we do and how we do it. We teamed up with Design Scout and Total Dish to explore our identity and how […]

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Rick Bayless’s James Beard Award-Winning Restaurant Topolobampo Gets a Refresh

06/28/2017 at 10:34 pm

Rick Bayless and his team approached Aria Group in the summer of 2016 with a small ceiling remodel of Topolobampo, a fine dining restaurant operating in Chicago’s River North neighborhood since 1989. The original scope of the project morphed into an extensive refresh of the space. In May 2017, Topolobampo won the James Beard Award for […]

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Designing a Resilient Restaurant Concept

08/29/2016 at 10:34 pm

In the world of restaurant growth and profitability, well managed concepts are always looking for ways to be innovative with menu options, price points, design and technology.  No matter how innovative the architectural design of the concept is, the recipe for success contains a lot of ingredients that must balance out.  Multi-Unit concepts are no […]

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Aria Group Goes to the Design Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa

04/17/2015 at 10:33 pm

In March, Walt, Megan, Christy, Amy & Joe attended the Design Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa. The speakers at the Indaba practice across a wide range of creative endeavors, such as fine arts, film, architecture, marketing, sculpture, music, craft arts, fashion and more.  Robby Brozin of Nando’s spoke about Nando’s business model and about […]

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YMEN Gets a New Look

02/11/2015 at 10:32 pm

YMEN (Young Men’s Educational Network) was started in 1996 by Michael Trout as an educational and mentoring resource for boys and young men of the Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago. Some of the original kids who went through the program are now grown up and helping to run it. In recent years, YMEN also started a […]

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