One of things I miss most during quarantine and pandemic closures (again) is going to restaurants. The smell of the food, the clinking of the glasses, interacting with people and the interior design. Yes, we go to restaurants for the food and friends, but we definitely go back for the atmosphere. The owners have a vision of the world they want you to enter upon the first step into the restaurant. Take in the handles on the door, the flooring, the fabrics, colors … you see where I’m going with this. A good restaurant design keeps us coming back for seconds. I can’t help but reminisce about eating at some of my favorite local restaurants (with table service! Inside!) that hit the mark on design and create a perfect pairing for the whole experience.
The Hattery in Doylestown, Pa. The style is one part industrial, two parts vintage antiques. As soon as you walk in, there are multiple crystal chandeliers—all vintage, and no two the same. Your eyes look at each one. This is a great use of incorporating unique lighting; visual interest abounds. Having multiple light sources that are ambient and functional. The fabric in the room in unexpected and comfortable. The barstools are completely custom and are a real talking point for the very industrial vibe they have created downstairs. The seating upstairs has hay sacks as the covering on the banquettes, and the lower bar has stools out of old bicycle wheels. Since it is also part of an inn, they have a whole wall of antique suitcases. So charming! So if you love antiques and industrial features, this shows you how you can bring those two aesthetics together in a unique and fun way. As an aside, their burgers are delicious.
Caleb’s American Kitchen, Lahaska, Pa. Caleb’s is literally around the corner from us here at Black-eyed Susan. In fact, that’s where we celebrated our holiday party (way back when, in 2019!). Many of our clients rave about their weekend brunches. But I don’t want to start talking about their apple and candied walnut pancakes, or we will get hungry! Caleb’s is interesting because it is a blank palette. All white, with one bright lime green wall. It’s very refreshing, a canvas that allows the food to speak for itself. There are no distractions—just crisp tablecloths, modern white chairs and oodles of natural light. It’s a great inspiration to see how to keep a totally neutral, clean palette and just use one bold accent color. You can incorporate that in any room of your house.
Suraya, Philadelphia, Pa. This is a perfect example of how good design is seamless. Each area is intimate and has a very unique style, yet they all make sense. The perfect recipe for success! (The food puns are too tempting, but I will only sprinkle in a few.) The beauty of this restaurant is how you can carry the design concept into your own home as well. The space houses a shop/cafe, a bar, main seating, chef’s table, intimate dining and an outdoor space, almost like your own house! It’s cozy and inviting, plus the ambiance carries throughout each area of the restaurant.
Hamilton Grill Room, Lambertville, NJ. This restaurant is the perfect example of how art makes a huge impact in a room. Large art sets the tone. If you are looking to create understated elegance to your home, a neutral palette with fabulous art is just the right combination. There is something very grand about this restaurant, yet it is actually an intimate space—and the artwork is key to that achievement. A soft fresco on the walls is almost operatic in nature. It echoes that life is art and art is life and food is the center of it all.
The Dandelion, Philadelphia, Pa. If you love dogs, high gloss and a killer banquette, you have to go to The Dandelion. It’s meant to replicate an English pub and it has all the cozy and vintage vibes you could ask for.