Aria Group Blog

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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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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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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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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Everyone Needs Good Design-Social Responsibility at Aria Group

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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VEX Robotics Competition Builds the Technology Professionals of the Future

02/23/2015 at 10:32 pm

According to the OPEF website, “The VEX Robotics Competition, managed by the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (REC), is the largest and fastest growing middle school and high school robotics program in the world, with more than 9,900 teams from 32 countries playing in over 600 tournaments worldwide.” The Oak Park Educational Foundation sponsors an […]

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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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P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Opens in Seoul, South Korea

11/26/2014 at 10:31 pm

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro is committed to creating exceptional dining experiences in a relaxed, vibrant atmosphere. Each location boasts a unique combination of Asian and American influences, contemporary design elements and lighting, natural materials, and muted color palette. The P.F. Chang’s that recently opened in Seoul, South Korea is a good example of the adaptability […]

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Dave & Buster’s Opens in Hollywood, CA

11/12/2014 at 10:30 pm

An exciting, high-energy concept like Dave & Buster’s fits in well with the glitz & glamour of Hollywood. So it is no surprise that the new location in the Hollywood-Highland Mall, opened in August, rapidly became a popular entertainment venue where one might spot some of the “rich and famous” of Hollywood’s denizens. It has […]

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A Much-Anticipated Restaurant Opening…Shake Shack Chicago

11/04/2014 at 10:29 pm

Aria Group Architects would like to congratulate Union Square Hospitality Group on bringing new Shake Shack locations to the Midwest starting with two Chicago Shacks. The first of these, at 66 E Ohio Street in the former location of the Harley Davidson dealership, opens today. Another one will follow up shortly afterwards in early 2015 […]

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Giordano’s Oakbrook Terrace – Before & After

09/19/2014 at 10:28 pm

The Giordano’s location in Oakbrook Terrace, IL was in need of exterior refurbishing and updated branding as well as improved pedestrian flow to draw patrons into the restaurant. Some of the changes to the exterior had the added benefit of bringing more natural daylight into the restaurant.  In order to achieve those goals, auxiliary exit doors were replaced with […]

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Promotion Announcement: Ryan Peterson

08/07/2014 at 10:28 pm

Ryan Peterson joins Christopher DeBoer, Dan Bernatek, Dave Nash, Pam Vajda and Chris Hamer as Associates at Aria Group Architects. Ryan has been with Aria Group for over ten years and has held the positions of Project Coordinator and Project Manager. He has made valuable contributions to projects such as the California Pizza Kitchen, P.F. […]

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Aria Group Architects, Inc.: Designing Great Spaces for a Quarter Century

02/15/2014 at 10:26 pm

Twenty-five years ago in February, Walter, Joe, Kathy and I started Aria Group Architects, Inc. in the front room of our home in Oak Park, IL. We were only in that office for four months before we moved into a retired architect’s office on North Avenue in Chicago. That year (1989) the economy was in […]

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Aria Group Designers Participate in DIFFA’s Dining by Design Charity Event

01/16/2014 at 10:25 pm

DIFFA stands for Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. It consists of leaders of the design industry who raise funds supporting the work of HIV/AIDS organizations. According to their website, Dining by Design is one of their annual fundraisers where “talented Chicago hot list interior designers and chefs craft signature designs and delish dishes amongst some […]

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Promotion Announcement, Chris Hamer

07/30/2013 at 10:24 pm

Aria Group Architects, Inc. is pleased to announce the promotion of Chris Hamer to Associate, from Project Manager. Chris Hamer joins Christopher DeBoer, Dan Bernatek, Dave Nash and Pam Vajda as Associates at Aria Group Architects. Chris has been with Aria Group for over ten years and has held the positions of Project Coordinator and […]

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California Pizza Kitchen History of a Concept

04/19/2013 at 10:21 pm

Aria Group Architects, Inc. has been instrumental in the design evolution of the California Pizza Kitchen concept for over two decades. In the 1990’s, CPK’s concept revolved around a strong “kitchen” atmosphere throughout their restaurants, as portrayed by a white, yellow and black tile, display kitchen and wood-burning Italian style pizza oven. In the mid […]

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A Celebration of Wine & Spirits

04/09/2013 at 10:20 pm

From sporty and casual to sleek and sophisticated, displays of wine and liquor entice patrons to add some libations to their tab. A bar at a restaurant, entertainment venue or gaming facility serves as a central meeting place for people before and after the main event. An appealing, energetic bar scene becomes a destination in […]

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The Ethnic Quick-Casual Explosion

03/16/2013 at 10:20 pm

Click for larger image Nando’s in Gaithersburg, MD Photographer: Anthony Gomez Peri-Peri Chicken, Crabmeat & Prawn Dumpling, Chicken Vindaloo, Tilapia Picatta, Grandma’s Tofu and Thai Curry Chicken Baos are all high-quality ethnic menu items from the new wave of quick-casual restaurants Aria Group Architects, Inc. has been designing recently. The items mentioned above are featured […]

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Aria Group Wins “Best In Show” in the IIDA 2013 STITCH Fashion Show

02/15/2013 at 10:19 pm

The group picture, left and center, shows the Aria Group design team and the Stone Source sponsors. Pictured from left to right: Shannon Angelovich (Stone Source), Shannon Sterne, Alex Fuente-Navarro, Leslie Baluga, Jamie Ayers (Stone Source), Loreta Bulvanaite (the model, from SOM), Eva Toma, Jennifer Lombardo and Egle Bankauskaite. Also involved but not pictured are […]

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Keefer’s Celebrates its 10 Year Anniversary

11/16/2011 at 10:18 pm

Congratulations are in order for Glenn Keefer, Rich Keefer, and James de Castro, owners of Keefer’s; this November Keefer’s celebrates its 10th Anniversary. Keefer’s, designed by Aria Group Architects, has been serving up some of Chicago’s best steaks and seafood since 2001. Last week Glenn and Rich Keefer hosted a celebration of their restaurant’s 10 year anniversary which included […]

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Maya Del Sol Restaurant Gets Rave Reviews on Check, Please!

10/31/2011 at 10:18 pm

Photographer: Mark Ballogg   Maya Del Sol, a popular Latin Fusion restaurant in Oak Park, IL., is owned by Margie and Anan Abu-Taleb. It recently received rave reviews from Christina Tallarico, a Chicago Spanish teacher, on Check, Please!   Aria Group is pleased to announce that one of its clients (especially one within walking distance of our office) has been recognized […]

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Let the Games Begin! TopGolf comes to Allen, TX

09/30/2011 at 10:17 pm

Click here for larger image      Photographer: Anthony Gomez   TopGolf is a unique destination entertainment facility that uses computer microchips embedded in regulation golf balls to create interactive games for both golfers and non-golfers alike. The new state-of-the-art location in Allen, TX was built by Arco/Murray National Construction Company. It opened in the summer of 2011 to […]

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P.F. Chang’s China Bistro in Corpus Christi, TX Earns LEED CI Gold

08/31/2011 at 10:16 pm

“P.F. Chang’s is committed to our communities and we recognize the profound impact we can make by utilizing sustainable materials in our restaurants. We are proud to be recognized with LEED certification and will continue to explore environmentally-friendly design and building elements as we renovate existing spaces and expand into new communities in the future.” […]

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Rich Melman wins Prestigious James Beard Award: Outstanding Restaurateur

05/10/2011 at 10:16 pm

Rich Melman is, by any measure, a powerhouse in the Hospitality industry. So it is with great pleasure that we wholeheartedly congratulate Mr. Melman, Aria Group’s client of 22 years, on winning the James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur Award for 2011. This Award coincides with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc., celebrating the 40th anniversary of opening its […]

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LED Technology Revolutionizes the Art and Science of Architectural Lighting

01/07/2011 at 10:15 pm

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center Architect: Aria Group Architects, Inc. Photographer: Doug Snower Click for larger image Since the invention of LED lights by Nick Holonyak, Jr. in 1962, the technology has evolved significantly. Originally producing low lumens and only appropriate for uses such as watches, clocks, or other digital displays, modern LEDs can produce […]

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Environmentally-Friendly Building Tips

11/30/2010 at 10:11 pm

The environment has become a key issue in recent years giving rise to a focus on sustainable building practices.  LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and similar building rating systems were created in part to showcase what is possible in environmentally-friendly design.  The ultimate goal is to make sustainable building commonplace industry-wide for the […]

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Aria Group Helps Bring U.K. Concepts to Washington, D.C.

11/12/2010 at 10:10 pm

For many U.K. restaurant concepts interested in overseas expansion, the United States is a logical choice. Washington, D.C., our nation’s capitol,  seems to be a welcome point of entry for such concepts. Nando’s Peri-Peri and Ping Pong Dim Sum in conjunction with Fran McDonald of KMH Partners, LLC., selected Aria Group to work with them in […]

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Aria Group and Stone Source Design “A Stitch In Time…”

09/14/2010 at 10:10 pm

Our design team: Jennifer Lombardo, Elisabeth Lacey, Leslie Baluga, Tristin Klaas (modeling the garment), Claire Cruz, Ira Harth and Jamie Ayers.     Aria Group participated in the International Interior Design Association’s 2010 STITCH Fashion Show, a fashion and charity event that pairs designers up with manufacturers to create a one-of-a kind wearable garment using the […]

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Cooper’s Hawk and Shake Shack win NRN’s Hot Concepts! Award

08/12/2010 at 10:08 pm

Aria Group Architects, Inc. would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our current client, Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant, and our new client, Shake Shack, on winning the Nation’s Restaurant News 2010 Hot Concepts! Award. We couldn’t agree more that these concepts are worthy of recognition.   To find out more about the award […]

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Contributing to a Vibrant Community in Oak Park, IL

07/30/2010 at 10:07 pm

Oak Park, IL is an upscale suburb of Chicago providing the best of both urban and suburban surroundings. While its close proximity to Chicago allows easy access to the cultural attractions of downtown, Oak Park is an historic and cultural destination in its own right. As one of the leading employers in Oak Park with a […]

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On the Boards: Hospitality and Entertainment

06/23/2010 at 10:06 pm

TopGolf in Allen, TX. Renderings by Aria Group Architects, Inc. For more images click here.   TopGolf is a unique destination entertainment facility that uses computer microchips embedded in regulation golf balls to create interactive games for both experienced and first time golfers. Randy Starr and Joseph Vrankin of TopGolf were looking for a design […]

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The Lucky Monk’s Dramatic Transformation on a Budget

03/30/2010 at 10:05 pm

Click here to see before and after photos With a prime location just off the Northwest Tollway next to the AMC South Barrington 30 multiplex theater, this location is a favorite of moviegoers and residents in the Northwest Suburbs.   The right mix of food, drink and atmosphere is sure to bring a lot of […]

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Hubbell & Hudson in The Woodlands, TX receives a Best of 2009 Award

01/25/2010 at 3:30 am

Check out the winners of Texas Construction Magazine’s Best of 2009  (published in December 2009). One of Aria Group’s projects, Hubbell & Hudson Market and Bistro in The Woodlands, TX, received an “Award of Excellence: Small Project”. Aria Group was the Restaurant Designer on this exciting project owned by Cary Attar. Special thanks to the General Contractor, […]

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Blue Chip Casino: Betting on a Top-Notch Entertainment Experience

10/12/2009 at 3:30 am

It’s Vegas, Baby! is a new venue at Blue Chip Casino, Michigan City, IN. One of the best investments a restaurateur can make in today’s market is to reconcept or remodel an existing restaurant. A design overhaul of an existing concept can give it new life, while updating an already successful concept unlocks its full potential. This fourth […]

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Giving New Life to an Older Restaurant in a Great Location: Papagus to Reel Club

07/14/2009 at 3:28 am

Reconcepting restaurant spaces is an important business survival decision at any time but particularly in this economy. If the owner of an older restaurant is no longer enjoying the same success as in previous years, reconcepting can revitalize the establishment into a strong new venue at a controlled cost. This second story in the Infinite […]

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The Right Move at the Right Time for Cooper’s Hawk

06/26/2009 at 3:27 am

One of the best investments a restaurateur can make in today’s market is to reconcept an existing restaurant. A total design overhaul of an existing concept can give it new life, while updating an already successful concept unlocks its full potential. Given the fact that reconcepting is such a timely topic these days, Infinite Ideas […]

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Creating Fun at the Zoo: Cutting edge guest services facilities make an impact

03/30/2009 at 3:26 am

Brookfield Zoo, South American Marketplace • Photography by Doug Snower The mission of zoos and aquariums includes scientific study, wildlife conservation and education. In order to deliver on the latter two goals zoos across the country realize the value that innovative exhibits and high quality guest services bring to the zoo experience.  The practice of entertaining while educating […]

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LA Food Show makes its debut in Beverly Hills

12/19/2008 at 3:21 am

California Pizza Kitchen’s LA Food Show concept is a celebration of the ever-evolving international culinary world. Los Angeles’ “spirit of innovation and cross-cultural experimentation” is at the heart of the LA Food Show‘s menu, which includes diverse offerings such as their Show Burger, Szchuan Dan Dan Noodles, Pub Style Fish & Chips and Adobe Chicken […]

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