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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 22, 2012 9 years ago

Eat it Up

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The plan behind a restaurant expansion was to fit a lot into a little. It worked.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Project: The Park Square Cellar in FishHawk Ranch, a master-planned community in Lithia. The owners, local entrepreneurs Shawn and Mary Sarkisian, expanded and renovated the eatery in 2010. Tampa-based Rojo Architecture was the lead design firm.

Rojo architects revised the original design idea several times. “There were four or five sketches that we did before we got one that made sense,” says Jonathan Moore, a principal at Rojo.

Features: The project's high point is it made a lot out of a small space. In fact, Moore says the new Park Square Cellar now has five elements: fine dining, live entertainment, a family restaurant, a local neighborhood bar, and retail space to sell wine.

The strategy was to create an intricate mix of design, planning and materials. The firm used movable walls and several unique finishes, for instance. The project also has several custom-made furniture pieces and abstract artwork. The bar is shaped like an L.

Hurdles: One issue, not exclusive to this project, is the budget was tight. But the main project-specific hurdle was to connect all the elements of the plan while operating under one brand.

Solutions: Rojo designers and architects visited the restaurant several times to get a feel for how they could connect those elements. The firm then “used a common thread of shapes and materials to transition between the programmatic pieces to create one solid design,” says Rojo Principal and Design Director John Saldana.

In practice, that meant using warm colors like aqua and rust, and a variety of textures and patterns that include stained concrete, curved wood laminate and metal panel designs. There is LED lighting throughout the restaurant.

Company: Rob Glisson and Saldana founded the firm in 1998, and named it after the first two letters of their first names. Moore joined the business in 2002. The business grew fast during the boom, slowed for several years after that and has since stabilized. The firm has 10 employees, including three hired last year. “It's a struggle, but we are holding our own,” Moore says. “Hospitality and medical is where we are seeing the most action.”

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