“What would the hashtag be for this project?” Not one for social media-speak, I was initially taken aback by the question. The colleague who asked me had been to Local Kitchens’ Palo Alto location—the largest one to-date, and the fifth location in the San Francisco Bay Area for the pioneering micro food hall—and knew that WDA had worked on that location, and the proof-of-concept first location in Lafayette.
As I gave the question more thought, I realized that it relates to the essence of the Local Kitchens projects—what the design partnership with the brand means to WDA, and what it means to me. So to go back to my colleague’s question about a hashtag, I came up with three interrelated ones:
The concept for Local Kitchens, as dreamt up by co-founders Jon Goldsmith, Andrew Munday and Jordan Bramble, is brilliant: bring small, well-loved local restaurant brands from the city to the suburbs under one roof, a physical space. If a food truck park (think vibe and variety), and a ghost kitchen (think efficiency) had a baby, it would be this “food hall for the digital age”—an exciting development for the restaurant world, and a brilliant example of fresh thinking coming out of San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Local Kitchens and the projects we’ve delivered for them so far are in our sweet spot. The WDA retail team and I have worked on a variety of restaurant projects over the years—from airport lounges for British Airways and Alaska Airlines, and outposts for Amy’s Drive Thru, Boudin, Goldilocks, and illy Caffè all at SFO, as well as street-front restaurants like A Mano. We have even helped Tacos El Grullense take its mom-and-pop restaurant and food truck operation to the food court format.
Some brands have design guidelines that inform our work, while for other brands, working with WDA presents an opportunity to revisit guidelines, and even create new ones. Regardless, our role as designers and architects is to extend the brand into a physical space that not only creates a guest experience, but also aligns with guests’ expectations for a particular brand.
Restaurant projects can be incredibly fast moving, and dynamic. As a company, Local Kitchens has an inventive idea, and the ambition and drive to scale it. Jon, Andrew and Jordan expect a lot, but they and their team are fun to work with. They are the kind of client that we like having at WDA—their passion makes it easy for us to be passionate about designing.
You can learn more about our work for Local Kitchens’ Palo Alto location here. Working on these projects makes me want to have a Local Kitchen in my area, so that I can enjoy the foods that I miss from the City.
In the meantime, back to hashtags, this one for me captures best what WDA and Local Kitchen have in common: #Passion4HospitalityInnovation.
READ MORE ABOUT LOCAL KITCHENS
By Jonathan Tsurui
Contributors: Lisa Boquiren, Chris Stokes, Katerina Leung, Sarah Mergy; Brenna Daugherty