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Chad H. Philhour

Welcome to Bliss Point – Experiential Dining

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The new table, experiential restaurants are in vogue.  Dining out isn’t only about eating and drinking, it’s about the entire dining experience.  Diners want to feel like they are getting more than a meal.  They expect more out of their time at the bar or restaurant – they want that extraordinary experience.  They crave that “experience” that creates memories, and with this, they are willing to pay extra. 

With the influence of today’s technology and trends providing a memorable experience has become a necessity.  Today’s patrons are searching for that “new and exciting experience” it’s culinary wanderlust.  The basic elements of operating an alluring restaurant are still very important – great food, first-rate drinks, good service, cleanliness, and appealing design.  Blending the experience with the deliciousness of each bit is how to optimize your success.

Welcome to Bliss Point – experiential dining that looks to augment your experience with flavor!  Renowned American market researcher and psychophysicist Howard Moskowitz describes bliss point as “that sensory profile where you like the food the most.”  It is the combination of sugar, salt, and fat that act synergistically and are more rewarding than any one ingredient.  This is the same essence that is used in good design – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Bliss Point is a case study that TK Architects has developed to create a uniquely designed space that puts experiential dining at the for-front.  The use of technology, innovation, quirky themes, unexpected strategies, and thoughtful design geared towards creating extraordinary encounters for your guest. The notion of creating immersive spaces that really drives the experience, consumers are responding to these extravagant forms of design and décor.

Bliss Point is entered through a portal intended to transport patrons from their daily rituals into a multi-sensory dining experience.  Patrons are greeted by a host, an astronaut, and their pet tiger (this place is Instagram heaven)!  The restaurant is organized around a central bar (be careful not to scare the flamingos) that provides views to each unique experiential dining room.  The experiences are as follows:

  • Experiential food museum – a hybrid space devoted to a cultural phenomenon of putting food on the art spaces table.  The gallery walls liven the museum space with peculiar art pieces.
  • Hipster family space – an era-specific space that conjures up days of the past and fun that only the undecade could bring!  The nostalgia-centric experience created by this space is one that is rooted in the desire of the traveler to feel connected to a world that they knew.
  • Pop-up dining event – the focal point here isn’t necessarily the food, but the combination of the senses that create something unique.
  • Multi-sensory dining experience – the use of projection mapping and active lighting enhance the dining experience.  The high-tech design allows for an ever-changing space and offers the patrons the ability to be transported anywhere as a paring component with the course.
  • Dining pods – social distancing at its finest, diners are cocooned in glass houses.  Individual pods let patrons experience intimate dining within an active space.
    • Experimental cocktail lounge – boozy lounge space that adds another layer to the experiential atmosphere bringing smoke and stage performers.

    Turning dining into an event may be the key to unlocking a higher check average. Check out the survey data from EventBrite:

    • 75% of people believe unique dining experiences are worth paying more for
    • 50% of people would pay more for the exact same menu if it had a chef interaction
    • 59% of people say cost does not impact their attendance but the menu, uniqueness, and location do

    So the stakes seem high for restaurant operations to excel at making every dining experience memorable.  Given the passion for adventure, it’s no wonder that consumers express a preference for paying for an experience rather a product.  Blending product and performance may be a recipe for success.  TK Architects is a leader in the experiential design market – let us help you in creating your dream.

    Chad H. Philhour

    Will the Global Pandemic Forever Change the Industry?

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    July 1, 2020

    How will the global pandemic that has rocked the entertainment sector forever change our industry as we begin to reopen the economy?

    Let’s first look to the past to understand how the world survived the deadliest modern pandemic.

    The 1918 “Spanish Flu” infected nearly 1/3 of the world population in three separate waves between 1918-1919 with an estimated fatality rate of 2%.  The first reported case was at Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas in March 1918.  The H1N1 was considered “novel” meaning it was so new at the time there was no immunity built up in the human race.  The lack of antibiotics, poor hygiene, crowded living conditions and the fact that we were in the tail end of World War I all helped spread the virus globally.  In an effort to curb the spread, tactics like isolation, quarantine, disinfectants, limiting public gathers and wearing masks were all implemented – sound familiar?  It was coined “crowding control” back then.  During the 1918 pandemic masks were suggested to be worn for up to 2 years.  It also affected everyone but strangely killed the healthiest people.  Also, viruses weren’t discovered until the 1930’s so the term virus was none existent.  The pandemic ended in the summer of 1919 with those infected either dying or having developed an immunity.  With the end of the Great War and the global pandemic came the roaring 20’s and people need to socialize!  The economy grew 42% during this time.

    Fast forward a 100 years.

    Before our current pandemic, the US economy was at an all-time high and unemployment was low.  As the outbreak was increasing in other countries of the world technology allowed us to see its impacts unfold (whether accurate or not).  Technology might have been able to be used to help us not repeat the past.  Several factors may have helped – truthful accurate reporting, listening to scientists and medical professionals, and defining the priority. Social distancing is better defined as physical distancing because we are still connected even during lockdown.  Staying in touch feeds the human connection that we all need.  What is missing is the emotional connection that comes from being in the physical presence of a group.

    How will we react after our current outbreak?  Will we have another cultural renaissance or will consumers be leery to get out and spend?  The shelter in place restriction was long enough to force new habits.  But if history tells us anything about humanity, once we navigate through a pandemic, people tend to run from isolation to some form of mega-socialization.

    So how do we prepare for what is hopefully another explosion of spending?  What are some key factors that consumers will require in order to jump-start your business?  A few suggestions that can lead to a positive comeback.


    • Brand love is more important than ever in our current times. We are creatures of habit and tend to be drawn to things we know. Steve Bryant of Article Group quoted “People care about what they already care about.”
    • Cultivating passionate fans takes positive emotional connection and self-brand integration.
    • To create superfans you must master the power of your story – shape the narrative.
    • Respect your customer


    • You must consider the four dimensions of trust
        1. Physical – do I feel safe? Use design to emphasize safety.
        2. Emotional – can I trust that you are being honest? Communication is paramount.
        3. Digital – can I believe that all my information is secure? Use technology to safeguard data.
        4. Financial – can I accept that my economic concerns are being served? Understand your customers are the most important commodity.


    • We are in an app world, use it to elevate your business.
    • Technology can drive efficiencies and productivity.
    • Use technology to elevate your customers experience.


    • Identify and prioritize revenue opportunities.
    • Purpose driven customer playbooks – understand your customer needs and build a scalable process.
    • Reservation/concierge will be important – create new interaction points for customers.
    • Openness is more important than ever – evaluate you current conditions and modify.
    • Control your guest flow through imaginative design not barriers – build on the experience.
    • Safety first.


    • Design efficiently, apply your money to enhance the customer experience.
    • Doing more with less.
    • Identify profit centers – exploit these areas with signage, branding and design.
    • Staffing efficiencies, utilize technology and purposeful design.
    • Offer less choices but make sure you do it exceptionally.

    The increase in economics after each recession period is great.  Understand where the market opportunity is and size your opportunity correctly.  For the entertainment sector everything will feel new again.  You get to shape the story on how your business will succeed.  Be prepared as a company for speed and agility – we must learn quickly, constantly be pivoting and adjusting.  Hard times build character and difficult times will bring market openings to strong companies.

    Albert Einstein said it best, “The same thinking that has led you to where you are is not going to lead you to where you want to go.”

    Chad H. Philhour

    Founded in 1981, TK Architects is a full-service architectural firm that offers all professional design services in-house to simplify and streamline coordination, including: Architecture, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Structural Engineering, Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineering. The firm’s focus is entertainment architecture and engineering, including cinema, bowling, bars/lounges, food service, and entertainment centers worldwide. TK Architects provides the right services at the right time to meet client’s specific needs, including: New Buildings, Tenant Interiors, Renovations, Facility Upgrades, and Maintenance.

    For more information about TK Architects please visit www.tkarch.com or contact Jack C. Muffoletto, at jcmuffoletto@tkarch.com


    Experiential Architecture

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    What is “Experiential Architecture” and how does it relate to the Cinema Industry?

    WIKIPEDIA outlines Experience architecture (XA) as the art of articulating a clear user story or journey through information architecture, interaction design or experience design that an end-user navigates across products and services offered by the client or as intended by the designer.

    If this is true, all cinemas could or maybe should be considered experiential architecture.

    Cinema is defined as the art of simulating experiences to communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty or atmosphere through the use of recorded imagery and sound.  If we expand the ideas of what is being portrayed on the screen to what could be experienced in your facility the potential to create experiences is limitless.  We know architecture has an emotional impact on humans, the question is what kind of emotions do you want to create for your users?  How can we collaborate to create memories?  Experiential architecture is design that evolves and responds over time, the notion of a holistic approach to the design.  If architecture can connect emotionally with its occupants, then the message can be felt more deeply thus more readily leaving a lasting impression on your customers.

    Designing for the traditional senses:  sight (vision), hearing (audition), taste (gustation), smell (olfaction) and touch (somatosensation). If you pay close attention while designing to sensory components the result will create an environment that is felt and memorable.  Maybe memory is the other sense we need to capture?  Perhaps it is out of these components that a great building can simply stimulate someone into making a decision.  Consumers identify their wants and needs, collect information, evaluate options and make decisions to purchase all of which are influenced by environmental factors some of which we can influence through design.  Customer experience from product, service, content, touchpoints, pricing, facility, sensory engagement which should all be considered and described in the design.  Does the design express a coherent platform for the experience?  Do the experiences complement and enhance each other or do they conflict and detract from each other?

    Experience starts as you approach your destination and the approach forms the path of preparation for the customer.  This can start as early as when patrons log on to your website or enter the parking lot of your facility.  It all relates to the complete approach of creating a memorable experience for your guests.  One that they want to choose again and again.

    Design Factors


    What kind of path do you want to create for your customers?

    Straight path, path around spaces, free path, path through spaces, transitional path, changing vistas along a path – the path provides the opportunity for interaction between spaces.  Knowing your preferences allows designers the ability to help create the correct path to better suit your business model and generate more revenue from the end-users.  For instance, if we know your model is to capture revenue from the patrons in the lobby by passing a multitude of options one might create a layout that resembles a casino floor.  However, if your goal is to get the patron in the theatre seat so they can begin ordering food and beverage, we might design a central corridor that leads directly to the auditorium door.  Different design elements are needed along these paths to generate the intended experience.


    Spatial experience is the visual perception at the human eye level.  Items placed above or below this level may be perceived differently.  It is similar to a path, movement through horizontal space is very different than movement through vertical space.  So it is very important for the design to keep the experience moving by shifting the visual axis along a horizontal path.  The use of barriers or obstacles provides areas to rest or contemplate which may be essential for impulse purchasing.  Architecture can compose the whole experience through the perception of space and the space becomes alive giving your customer a sense of presence in your facility.


    Colors of interior walls can influence the imagination.  Every color elicits a different and unique emotional response with its viewer (this is also very dependent on culture):

    • Yellow gives the impression of bright and intense, as people associate it with the sun.
    • Red evokes accuracy and attention to detail since people associate red with danger, which makes you more alert.
    • Blue creates a relaxed state allowing the imagination to roam since we associate blue with the ocean and sky.
    • Green suggests nature and organic quality, it is the most balanced color which equates to stability.
    • White expresses openness, with a message of purity and sterile.

    *Each specific color can change when modified in their lightness factor and saturation (light to dark).

    Building Components

    • Ceiling heights also affect how we think, low ceilings help focus one’s thoughts while high ceiling promote free thinking.  It’s the difference between “item-specific” versus “relational” processing.
    • Flooring materials impact how we navigate through spaces.  Carpet can increase the duration of people’s gathering time. 
    • Lighting (both natural and artificial) affects mood.  Sunlight improves memory, dim lighting helps people relax.
    • Furniture impacts socialization.  Furniture organized in small groupings encourages interaction.  Semi-circle arrangements increase participation. Straight-line configurations encourage independence.

    The spaces around us can influence and enhance our daily lives.  Considering the design as a major component to enhance the overall experience thus creating memorable experiences will create greater value for your users.  Giving the customer more than expected through experiential architecture makes it easier to consume and spend at a higher price point.  A similar model for coffee purchased from Starbucks versus McDonald’s – atmosphere and creativity matter more than ever to consumers in today’s society obsessed with consumption.

    Experiential architecture is on the rise and today’s consumers demand emotional connections.  Movies are emotionally driven so leverage that cinematic experience on the screen to your facilities architecture to shape the customers’ experience.  Human-centric design is paramount to your brand’s story, and good collaborative design will make your facility a preferred destination point.

    – Chad H. Philhour


    Founded in 1981, TK Architects is a full-service architectural firm that offers all professional design services in-house to simplify and streamline coordination, including: Architecture, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Structural Engineering, Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineering. The firm’s focus is entertainment architecture and engineering, including cinema, bowling, bars/lounges, food service and entertainment centers worldwide. TK Architects provides the right services at the right time to meet client’s specific needs, including: New Buildings, Tenant Interiors, Renovations, Facility Upgrades and Maintenance.

    For more information about TK Architects please visit www.tkarch.com or contact Jack C. Muffoletto, at jcmuffoletto@tkarch.com