Yes, this is what I call research

So this past weekend Kristen and I visited Chicago for a little “research”.  We visited several noodle shops and ate lots of food, good and mediocre.  Yes, I’m calling in research.  I can also go with “bench marking”.  Pick your semi-business sounding word and that’s most likely what we did.

Over the course of 2 days, we visited Urban Belly, Tank Noodles, Takashi, Lao Sze Chuan, Katy’s Dumplings, Be Le Bakery among others, so expect future posts on those visits.  However for now, I want to talk about my visit to Avec after Kristen left the windy city a little early.  I know, Avec is not a noodle shop, obviously, but how Avec is organized spatially is smart.  We can use smart.

See how the restaurant is maximizing the whole space for sitting?  How all the lines are kept very simple and focused so the space is very clean?  Let’s see some more.  (I apologize for the less than ideal quality of iPhone pictures.)

The lights are kept within the ceiling rather than hanging so it keeps the space open.

Avec is using every little available space and keeping everything in either wood or stainless steel so things look streamlined and not cluttered.

Even the bathroom.  Check out the hand towel box.  A lot cheaper and prettier than electric hand dryer for sure.  Even the waste basket is the same color and material as the rest of the restaurant.

There is a modest open kitchen with stoves, ovens and a fridge.  All the kitchen equipment and vents are nicely tucked away.  I’m assuming there is a prep kitchen in the basement.  This is one of the smallest open kitchen I’ve seen yet it turns out amazingly delicious food.

See the bar width on the left.  For the bar that only sits on one side, there is enough space to set your plates, wine glasses and bottles, and entrée.  You don’t feel squeezed in but it’s not like they give you a huge space either.  See the table width on the right.  There is enough space for two plates facing each other and just enough space for entrées.

Also observe that this is a communal seating.  The tables are arranged in one long line, resembling a cafeteria table and people sit together.  It’s a busy Saturday night and you have one table with four seats and two parties of two?  No problem, just sit them together.  And don’t people look like they’re enjoying themselves here?

The staff can either go against the wall by the bar or to in the middle to serve, small but convenient.

The result is a lively and busy restaurant with great food that runs very smoothly despite tight space.  Love it.


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