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Wistaria Restaurant

This project successfully converted a poured-in-place concrete industrial building into a warm and inviting restaurant themed around the juxtaposition of aged concrete, old-growth wood, tall ceilings, tall windows, and sleek contemporary detailing.

The Program
The fairly straightforward Program included a bar and waiting area, main dining area, kitchen and support areas, and restrooms. The existing storefront dictated the preliminary relationship between dining, waiting, and bar, and its wide and narrow front-of-house configuration necessitated a linear spacial arrangement.

Design Challenges
The high-risk strategy was almost an exercise in architectural archeology—for the true potential of the existing space could only be confirmed upon complete demolition. Existing 'wedding cake' plaster finish on walls and dropped ceilings needed to be carefully removed (and rafters structurally supported at mid-span) in order to expose the existing poured-in-place wall finish and old-growth roof framing. Then, once assessed, the design vocabulary—clean, contemporary wood detailing juxtaposed against the vintage construction—could be detailed and executed.


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Bar and Waiting Area
One half of the open space, divided down the center and aligned to the main entrance, is the bar and seating area. Wood spaced boxes, gently uplit with strip lighting, anchors the south wall and dramatically accents the textured imperfections of the concrete walls. A full bar, connected to a standing-height wrap-around shelf provides additional seating space and waiting area.
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Wistaria: Weathered Boxes
Crisp wooden open boxes, with a 3/4" reveal, anchor to the textured concrete walls and are uplit with amber strip lighting. Exposed edison bulbs, with oversized glass globes, add warmth and sparkle.
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Wistaria: Bar
The bar (right) connects to a service area (center) with open kitchen access between (center-right). The service area features contemporary wooden detailing inserted into wall pockets—a theme carried throughout.
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Wistaria: Exposed Concrete
The simple expression of texture and materiality is present everywhere—even when used as setup storage.
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Wistaria: Transition
A smooth and sleek central soffit, hiding ventilation, lighting, and structural supports,divides the Bar from the Dining Room. On either side of it, exposed original framing, and perimeter concrete walls, provide depth, texture, and contrasting materials.

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Wistaria: Service Bay
Placed in a command position, overlooking the entire restaurant, is a POS station, service bay and wine display. Wood detailing is inset with 3/4" reveals, consistent throughout the restaurant.
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Wistaria: Wine Display
The wine and glass display features individual wood boxes, with 3/4" reveals, anchored to a deep-set wood panel inserts on the top, sides, and back.
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Wistaria: Bar
The sides and front of the Bar (and Dining Room) are existing poured-in-place concrete with original old-growth douglas-fir framing. Fixed storefront glazing was replaced with operable eight-foot high double-hung windows (with horizontal mullions), and a new bar and bar shelved was added. Though rough and industrial, the finished space is warm, inviting, and rich in color and texture.
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Wistaria: Main Entry
The main entry aligns with the main axis dividing the Bar and the Dining Room. Existing fixed storefront glazing was replaced with eight-foot tall double-hung windows, whose horizontal mullions help create a strong, calming, sense of horizontality.
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Main Dining Room
One other half of the open space, divided down the center and aligned to the main entrance, is the Dining Room and main service corridor. A wood and leather banquette, topped with a continuous, horizontal mirror running the entire length, anchors one side, while a wood screen and service counter anchors the back wall. Two sides of the space are existing poured-in-place concrete, with exposed old-growth framing forming the 12-foot ceilings.
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Wistaria: Dividing Screen
Self-spaced horizontal douglas-fir boards screen the main service area, while above the leather banquette hangs the continuous wood-and-mirror element with continuous strip backlighting.
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Wistaria: Service Hall
The access hall (to restrooms and the back exit) features existing poured-in-place concrete and warm uplighting.
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Wistaria: Banquette
Above the leather banquette is a continuous horizontal mirror-and-wood element running the entire length of the Dining Room. It's warm, continuous backlighting accents the textured poured-in-place concrete walls and original old-growth roof framing.
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Wistaria: Dining Windows
New eight-foot tall double-hung windows replace existing fixed storefront glass—creating a dynamic horizontal rhythm and the ability to directly connect with the exterior.
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Wistaria: Bar to Dining
A gentle transition between the Bar and Dining Areas is created by variations of table heights and rotation of orientation. The plaster soffit above houses mechanical, lighting, and structural supports (previously this was a load-bearing wall), and subtly divides the two spaces.
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Wistaria: Main Dining
The horizontal mirror-and-wood element offers glimpses back at the bar area as well as interesting reflections of the old-growth wood framed ceiling.
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Wistaria: Dining Room and Service Bay
Terminating the Dining Room are two wood-slatted screens and a wood cabinet storage case, delicately inserted into a plaster niche. To the center left is the corridor leading to the restrooms and back entry.