Eastern European cuisine welcomes customers at a brasserie featuring a display cooking suite, an eclectic wine and cheese bar and a grab-and-go skyway café that utilizes ventless cooking equipment.
Original article: Facility Design Project of the Month, November 2014: Brasserie Zentral, Foreign Legion Wine & Cheese Bar and Café Zentral in the Soo Line Building in Minneapolis.
As the historic Soo Line building was about to transition from office building to apartment complex, the first-floor corner retail space became a critical component to the project's success. The object of Brasserie Zentral was to create an exceptional front door to the new building, energize the street corner and bring an upscale casual dining experience to part of downtown Minneapolis, which is in the midst of a renaissance. The goal was to create a strategy that would transform the building's retail space and create an environment that bridged the 1915 historic design with the modern adaptation.
Brasserie Zentral's goal was to give guests the ultimate interaction with the dynamic open kitchen and the intimate bar. Creating a variety of seating options from more private to more energetic was a key component of this project, too. The restaurant also sought to achieve an overall experience inspired by classic European hospitality and service. The restaurant design created the kitchen and bar as the two major focal points in the space. The seating variety is dynamic, featuring custom booth sizes to give guests cozy gathering spots tucked away from the action or front-row seats to the kitchen. A kitchen counter allows guests to integrate completely with the kitchen experience. The space contains timeless materials including natural tones, rich tufted seating, dark wood finishes, antique brass elements and a warm glow throughout.
PROJECT DESIGN FEATURES
Because Brasserie Zentral was part of a historic renovation of the Soo Line building, a 1915 structure, into a mixed use of housing and retail, the entrances must strike a balance between historic criteria and retail needs. Due to the construction above, the street-level space was left with low ceilings and the challenge of providing restaurant infrastructure that would not disrupt housing. The low ceilings challenged designers to control the sound in the space. Also, the construction was phased for completion after residents had moved in, leaving strict parameters on schedule and space use. The space has two entrances from the street and interior of the building.
Designers created false ceiling beams with coffers to utilize space that had height by implanting properties that controlled sound. Minimal lighting avoided clutter along the ceiling plane. The greatest ceiling height along the exterior helped bring in natural daylight and energy from the city streets.
The open kitchen gives a transparency for all guests to see, hear and smell the ingredients and food preparation. It also provides staff an efficient means to serve guests. From the central pickup station within the kitchen, servers have a nearly equidistant walk to all areas of the restaurant, allowing for efficient food delivery. The chef and design team
choreographed the entire flow within the space.
In order not to obstruct customers' views of the main expo area, warewashing sits behind a curtain on the main level.
Aisles are tight and refrigeration is close to work stations. Dipper wells positioned throughout the kitchen give staff easy access to utensils. Hand sinks are within easy reach. The downstairs kitchen is more spacious with mobile stations that allow for more flexibility depending on the day's menu. A unique, self-contained butchery nook downstairs sits separately from the rest of the prep space so it is easy to wash and staff avoids cross-contamination. All ventilation contains energy management features.
SINCE THE RENOVATION
Q&A with Russell Klein
FE&S: How did the expenditures strengthen the project's success?
RK: We started with an overall budget. The biggest investment was the kitchen, which efficiently serves a variety of food venues throughout the building. The other key factor was creating a statement bar. Once those two key areas were estimated, the rest of the budget was split between front-of-house elements to achieve important impact. The final result was a project that came in within budget and was designed with a refined sophistication throughout.
FE&S: Congratulations on being named restaurant of the year by the StarTribune. Have you been pleased with your success?
RK: Oh, yes. The restaurant is performing well. We are very pleased with the design and equipment choices.