Casual restaurant chain Fatz is completely reworking its restaurants’ interiors with the goal of bringing the 24-year-old brand up to date and attracting a wider audience.
The 48-location chain, which is owned by Café Enterprises based in Taylor, South Carolina, worked with design and development company Streetsense to implement the new aesthetic.
Recognized since its inception in 1988 as a mountain lodge themed restaurant, Fatz, which serves American fare ranging from burgers to steaks, wanted its restaurants to feel more open with better lighting and a more sophisticated feel.
The company began with a prototype in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and three weeks ago completed its second prototype store in Asheville, North Carolina. The plan is to gradually shift all stores—which are in five Southeastern states—to the new design.
“The mountain lodge has gone,” says Stephen Loftis, vice president of Cafe Enterprises.
“If you were to drive by you’d notice this is a newer Fatz. It’s hipper, more on trend, resonating with that Millennial audience.”
The new design is attracting Millennials because it’s more modern, he says. “Ten to 20 years ago that mountain lodge feel was on trend, it was what resonated. Today it’s different,” he explains.
Fatz was hoping to draw in more Millennials because “we wanted to get a little younger all round and appeal to a broader audience,” Loftis explains. “Millennials are the future and a growing audience that we’ve maybe neglected to appeal to.” The new style restaurants continue to appeal to Fatz’s core demographic of Baby Boomers, however.
The changes to the restaurants involve new colors (more earth tones), carpeting (lighter colored, a shorter weave, with a more updated feel), tables (with a different stain), and an enhanced bar area.
To open up the restaurants and make them feel lighter and brighter, some walls were knocked down and more modern light fixtures added. Outside seating (all additional) on a patio was added to the two prototype stores and will be included in all remodels and new stores, where feasible.
The new interiors have also woven in some design elements from Café Enterprises’ other brand, Tavern 24.
“Some of the industrial items—metals, silvers, grays—the more industrial look and feel is incorporated into these new prototypes,” says Loftis.
Adds Gabriela Philippone, project architect at Streetsense: "[We] wanted to provide some continuity with the use of pertinent elements among the Cafe Enterprise restaurants. A tie between these two concepts was important."
And the bar area has been enhanced “because there’s a revenue source there,” he explains. It has now become a more focal part of the restaurants. The hope is, explains Loftis, that people will come back another day for a drink at the bar or have a drink before or after dinner.
By Amanda Baltazar
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