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THE NEW NORMAL: Design With a Spritz of Sanitizer

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September 3, 2020

The ‘New Normal’

Gloves, a mask, and a pocket full of sanitizer, “Business as usual”, is a common phrase that describes anything BUT the landscape of the industry in 2020. With the world on high alert, it seems nowadays, ‘normal’ is something we no longer have access to. Instead, business continues, but under a new set of rules. An environment of uncertainty, but surreptitiously presenting an opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs to define, ‘new normal’ and thrive.

From creative economical design to luxurious VIP concepts, here at TK Architects International we help clients worldwide establish and execute their brand and style. Our focus is entertainment architecture and engineering including cinema, bowling, bars/lounges, food service, and entertainment centers. We work to develop solutions for the new normal and create a safe and clean environment for our clients’ customers, without sacrificing design, or experience.

A Virtual Sit-down with Tamra Smith of Lucas Flooring

Earlier this month one of our own, Melissa Miller was interviewed by Lucas Flooring, a full-service commercial flooring provider owned and operated locally here in KC. Melissa talks about the impact of COVID-19 and how it has affected the way that the interiors team specifies materials for projects while staying on the cutting-edge of design.

QUESTION: What new material trends do you see in the theater/hospitality segment?

ANSWER: Before the virus, we were seeing arcades, bars, and restaurants becoming more experiential in design.  Incorporating the use of materials to define spaces.  Those materials became more natural like woods, stones, and other similar textures.  On another note and due to the pandemic, we may see the idea of social distancing in public change how we create experiences. How do we use techniques and materials as semi-natural barriers to create that separation of space and maintain an experience for the customer?

QUESTION: Do you have a personal favorite new trend?  If so, what?

ANSWER: Love that color is making a comeback.  The cinema industry took a turn toward hospitality design a while back and everything became very neutral. Now we are starting to see pops of color come back in our designs. It’s more fun, and it feels more designed.

QUESTION: Are any types of materials now being avoided?  If so, why?

ANSWER: Durability was, and will always be key, but now we must consider cleanability and anti-microbial content due to COVID-19.

QUESTION: What new color trends are you seeing?

ANSWER: Greens of every color, and pops of pastel pink.  Last year’s deep blue is still very prominent as well.

QUESTION: What impact is COVID-19 having on your projects?  What about how you engage clients?

ANSWER: Our clients have started getting creative in how they operate. One client started rigging movie screens on their building exterior to turn their parking lot into a drive-in.  Likewise, contactless delivery is changing how food is handled.  More and more apps for ordering are being used instead of a traditional concessions counter.  Within our office for example, we are doing a lot more Zoom/MS Team calls, while still continuing to use our phone to communicate with our clients.

QUESTION: How about on material selections?

ANSWER: We are going to see a turn towards anti-microbial.  The materials still have to be aesthetically pleasing, but also very cleanable in order to make the customer comfortable.  Educating the customer on these non-visible issues is equally important.

QUESTION: What is the most difficult thing about designing for theaters today?

ANSWER: There is the constant battle, “… how do we get families out of their homes and back into the theatres…?”  With so many choices for the entertainment dollar, cinema operators must try to reinvent the movie-going experience. And maybe it’s not for just movies. It might now be E-gaming events, concerts or TV series finales instead. There are innovative opportunities for expansion when it comes to big-screen cinemas.

QUESTION: Anything else you would like to add, or want people to know?

ANSWER: The biggest thing is that a lot of cinemas are starting to turn into family entertainment centers, to create a one-stop full-day experience, instead of a two-hour event. Cinemas are not spaces where people think of social distancing. Therefore, our challenge is how to make semi-natural barriers that allow customers to enjoy their visit without feeling uncomfortable or crowded.

Cleanliness is King

Durability is key. We do not want to specify a product if it will not last the test of high traffic. Our clients want their theatres to be classic, not trendy, so the materials need to last, but with the added in coronavirus pandemic at the forefront of people’s minds, cleanliness is king. materials need to be easily cleanable and need to last through constant and consistent cleaning.

How is COVID-19 affecting your business/industry and what are some things that have become the new normal for you? Let us know in the comments and most of all, wash your hands and stay safe out there!

Jack C. Muffoletto


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

 

Reimagining the Restaurant: Week 1

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DESIGN IDEAS FOR OUR NEW REALITY

 

August 17, 2020

The table was draped in caution tape, chalk marked the floor, and people roamed about in gloves and masks.  Is this a crime scene?  No crime, just the inside of a restaurant in 2020.  

For the restaurants bold enough to attempt a grand reopening, inventiveness is the name of the game.  Strategies are varied from the fake crime scene described above to creative and inviting transformations.  Hopefully, these solutions are temporary, but the jury is still out.

One thing that is not temporary is the change in customer attitudes and habits which have been accelerated by the pandemic.  Restaurants and businesses of the future will need to adapt accordingly, which leads us, designers, to ask questions like:

What will the future look like?

The exercise of ‘designing the future’ is part of our design culture at TK.  We brainstorm year-round to come up with original and creative ways to solve new and old problems.  Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of our ideas. 

These are not necessarily ready-to-ship solutions, or are they?  They are definitely what-if scenarios meant to build a bridge between where we are now and what the future may hold.

Idea #1

Consider the rise of off-site, ghost kitchens, food trucks, and robust delivery services like Uber-eats.  Even before COVID, the distance between the restaurant kitchen and the dining experience was growing.  The last three months have only sped up that trend.  Some of the businesses who fared best were the ones who had already invested in off-site food production.

For many people, having restaurant-quality food in their own home is not enough.  They want to get out!  Their favorite part about dining out is the atmosphere and service.  This concept focuses on creating a great place for dining and connecting it with remote kitchens. 

Functionally, this concept does three things: first, it takes the kitchen out of the restaurant and gives 90% of the space to dining.  Second, it connects this premium dining experience with a remote kitchen…or kitchens through ordering apps.  And third, it reverses the idea of the drive-thru.  Rather than food going out the pick-up window, it’s being delivered in, plated and staged, and served to customers. 

From a practical point of view, this idea allocates more space for seating.   It also uses the majority of the prime high-exposure real estate to be front-of-house, while locating the kitchen in lower-cost rental space.  Alternatively, completely eliminate the kitchen, and only rely on third party off-site to deliver. In this situation the facility is primarily about providing an experience and atmosphere.

Idea #2

Things have changed, people order online, uber-eats accounts for a growing number of pick up orders, and smart POS can coordinate orders better than the traditional first-in-first-out organization.  

This concept imagines an improved drive through that can handle increased volume while accommodating varied types of order placement. More ordering, more pick up. Additionally, it designs around the new businesses and ordering habits by separating ordering, from online, from delivery partners. From an experiential level, it elevates the drive-through experience with design, which may be key for brands exploring drive-through at higher price points, or just more brand loyalty.

A concept like this is aimed at meeting future demands, increasing volume, decreasing wait times, and wrapping that all up in an improved aesthetic experience.

Well, there you have it.  Two ideas.  I hope you enjoyed thinking about the restaurants of the future.  Did this spark any ideas for you? Perhaps you know how we can improve one of these…we’d love to hear from you!

More of our concepts for the restaurant of the future will be coming soon.  Whatever you decide to do, the key is to create something that endears customers to your brand for years to come!

Steven Dragan


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

 

Reimagining the Restaurant: Week 2

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DESIGN IDEAS FOR OUR NEW REALITY

 

August , 2020

Hello Again! We’re in week two of our blog series “Re-imagining the Restaurant”. This series starts with the premise that changes in customer attitudes and habits have been accelerated by the pandemic. Then we ask our designers to imagine a facility around those future trends. This week imagines one way a facility could become more flexible.

What will the future look like?

As we said last week, These are not necessarily ready-to-ship solutions but what-if scenarios meant to build a bridge between where we are now and what the future may hold.

Idea #3

If the pandemic has taught us anything its that adaptability is key. More than that, maintaining a brand experience as you do it is the difference between “sorry it has to be this way” and “look at this premium upgrade we’re giving you”.

This idea focuses on flexibility; one restaurant that can transform to deliver three distinct customer experiences.  The main design move here takes an existing restaurant and adds on a flexible porte-cochere.  Consider this the super-structure which different elements can be plugged into, enabling it to switch between normal mode, expanded dining mode, or luxury pick-up mode.

Mode 1: Double the dining.  Create an intentionally designed covered space with premium pavers as flooring, heating elements for comfort through the seasons.  Thoughtful layout and lighting can make this feel like an extension of the dining area.  Ultimately, this mode is aimed at increasing capacity while providing distance. 

Mode 2: Premium Pick up.  Perhaps your brand has $$$ or $$$$ on yelp, should pick up need to become the primary means of revenue,  a premium pick-up zone can preserve your brand prestige by elevating the experience.  Something to differentiate your experience from fast-food, and remind your customers that you pay attention to detail, atmosphere, and customer service even as you pivot from one mode to another.

Mode 3: A “normal” restaurant with a premium drop off and modest patio.  This mode is the business-as-it-used-to-be version.  The porte-cochere remains, the premium paver tiles remain and create an upgraded arrival, even some covered parking. However, the more important aspect is that it is ready to switch to the other modes if needed to continue to deliver a premium experience

I hope you enjoyed this week’s idea about the restaurants of the future. Did this spark any ideas for you? Perhaps you know how we can improve one of these…we’d love to hear from you!

Stay tuned!

Steven Dragan


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

 

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.

1. BRAND LOVE

  • 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

2. BUILD TRUST

  • 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.

3. LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY

  • 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.

4. SET TRENDS

  • 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.

5. OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCIES

  • 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

 

COVID, Design, and Father’s Day

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COVID, Design, and Father’s Day

 

We are now back to work in our office and abiding by CDC guidelines and local governmental declarations. Our workstation layout is already naturally spread out for the 6’-0” social distancing recommendation. Certain rooms get new rules like conference rooms and the kitchen for limited amounts of people, masks, hand sanitizer, and distancing. Our challenge is that we encourage a tight-knit culture built on face to face collaboration. This causes a disruption of the status quo of how an architectural / engineering firm functions. Fortunately, we have elements in place for virtual collaboration; fast internet and cloud-based platforms. The cloud-based tools are real-time collaboration tools where users can add comments and annotations. We rely less on printed drawings and instead can perform digitized sketch design for sharing both in the office and virtually. In all, we have leveraged our technology to work differently and safely.

 

To help our clients, it is our job to manipulate designs to make the paying customers feel safe and welcome. In these times, the customer’s comfort level extends beyond what is visual. Because of this, the clients are forced to put new programs in place. Technology seems to be the leading charge with more reliance on mobile phones, contactless motion-activated sensors, and the like. As architects, we are committed to safety without sacrificing the experience. For example, how do we adopt technology along with social distancing practices that don’t feel forced? How do we maintain spacing concerns without making people feel isolated or as if they aren’t allowed to have human-to-human contact?

On that note, after a late breakfast on Father’s Day, we packed coolers and went to the neighborhood pool to enjoy the day. When we got to our socially distanced lounge chairs it was like being in a different world, yet a world that was vaguely familiar. Children playing, people drinking, eating, and laughing. It was a wonderful day. But more than that, it confirmed something I have believed during this entire pandemic. The world is not going to change as much as some people think. People want to go out to eat, socialize in bars, travel, conduct business, seek out experiences, etc. In fact, many people will do this the first chance they get. It is such an important part of who we are. The memories we make with family. The connections we make with business colleagues. The much needed breaks we crave. People adapt quickly. Some faster than others, but we adapt together. It has been a devasting time for our industry but my Father’s Day outing gave me much hope that recovery is closer than we may think. Let’s hope so.

– Jack Muffoletto


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