Foodservice Equipment and Supplies magazine recently named Beatrix in Chicago its 2015 Facility Design Project of the Year. “Beatrix is a neighborhood restaurant, coffeehouse and meeting place located in Chicago’s River North.” (Source: beatrixchicago.com). FES highlighted the restaurant in an article published in February 2014. The name ‘Beatrix’ holds sentimental meaning for legendary Chicago restauranteur Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ (LEYE) founder and chairman, and his wife, Martha, who both called their mothers ‘Bea.’ “Beatrix in Latin means voyager or traveler, which refers to the guests the restaurant serves.” LEYE became involved with this property when the Aloft Hotel’s owner approached Melman about operating a restaurant at the corner of Grand and Illinois. “We thought about what a hotel guest wants when traveling and what the neighborhood needs,” says Marc Jacobs, executive vice president and partner at LEYE. “Combining this equation with the talents of our chefs, we created something new and different — a neighborhood concept with a warm, comfortable atmosphere, reminiscent of an old coffeehouse, and a menu that is not only delicious but also healthier than what one would expect to find in this setting. This is most challenging with regards to finding and organizing space in the coolers and on the line.”
The Kitchen Designer for the restaurant was Equipment Dynamics Inc., Chicago. Beth Kuczera, president told FES “We couldn’t change the footprint, but we had full opportunity to create the interior design and layout that we wanted.”
Included in that unique footprint is a Thermo-Kool 8’2” x 12’11” x 9’0” high walk-in cooler and a 12’10” x 15’11” x 9’0” high combination cooler/cooler (pictured inset above). With Thermo-Kool’s flexibility in design and capability of manufacturing in 1” panel increments both walk-in coolers were manufactured to actual dimensions to fit exactly in the space available. As indicated in the paragraph below, aesthetics were important so the exposed exterior finish for the single compartment walk-in cooler was stucco stainless steel and the exposed exterior finish for the combination walk-in cooler was white stucco galvanized.
“We set out to make the kitchen both functional and comfortable,” Kuczera continues. Because guests can see almost everything in the kitchen appearance became a key design consideration. “For example, we used 2B Mill stainless steel on the front counter so it looks a little aged and rustic, and used a counter with a marble top for pastry work,” Kuczera says. “This whole area faces windows, and there are stacked, functional and display shelves to hold spices, so the whole area is very inviting. We used the more expensive pebbled stainless for the walk-in cooler so it would look nice when viewed from the dining room. We specified enclosure panels on the walk-ins and hoods to meet the 11-foot ceilings, to dress up this equipment and make the tight kitchen space feel grand. We wanted this kitchen to be stylized and yet were challenged to remain fiscally responsible. We wanted to avoid elements such as dead ends so staff would like to work in the space and be productive. In addition, we needed an expo component so guests can see the equipment and the chefs at work. And, we were thoughtful about where we put the aisles so customers don’t see the nitty-gritty parts of the kitchen. We thoroughly researched the equipment and layout to be sure we had the best layout and flow in this small space and would see continuous activity. When staff receive deliveries on Clark Street, they check in products before taking some items to the lower-level storage, which includes two walk-in coolers, one for beer and wine and the other for produce and dairy. Staff also take some products directly into the kitchen and past an aisle bracketing the dishroom to a walk-in cooler and other upright and undercounter refrigeration.”
Thermo-Kool Customer Account Representative, Kay Kepper, worked on the Thermo-Kool walk-ins for the project with Kuczera and Thermo-Kool marketing agent, Debra Cassidy with Cassidy’s ProLine, Lombard, Illinois.
(Inserts from FES February 2014 article reprinted with permission from FES.)