The Dolar Shop represents an attitude of fine living, reflected in both high-quality food and the elevated dining experience. The same team that helped make The Dolar Shop’s debut also designs the tableware and dining tables at the East Village flagship store. The team worked with the product and interior design teams for two years before completing the project. Inspired by the brand’s recognizable geometric logo, the tableware is handmade in Chaozhou, China’s largest regional producer for fine porcelain and everyday dinnerware.
“Hot pot has a slightly different dining environment than Chinese and Western cuisine – not only are there a large number of utensils arranged tightly on the table but as a highly interactive dining experience, it also requires flexibility in the table space and a well-organized visual aesthetic. Therefore, we hope that the tableware design will present a beautiful picture of a dense but orderly table, which will enhance the dining and social experience of our customers visually. We also hope that the newly designed tableware will help us improve the efficiency of our service because only then can our service staff focus more on each customer,” says Jay Zhao, General Manager of the East Village location.
The rhythmic, interactive, and applicable design philosophy is also reflected in the music of The Dolar Shop. The playlist is carefully curated with French, Hong Kong, African, South American, and Korean elements, among others. Each hour’s bpm is carefully arranged, accelerating from afternoon to late afternoon and reaching a peak at 9 pm. The daytime selections provide a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, blending Funk, Soul, Acid Jazz, and Instrumental Hip Hop, keeping it rhythmic and cozy at the same time. The evening selections focus more on the gradual progression of emotions over time, starting with strong ambient Soul that sets the evening mood and gradually shifts to French disco/boogie. Chinese songs are also interspersed as highlights, combined with other genres through a special mixing process to create unexpected surprises. High-energy disco/house music at the most exciting times of the night will set a warm and joyful party mood. The track will end with a soothing East Asian-inspired funk that will leave the customers wanting more.
To echo the vibrant and hospitable character of East Village, the restaurant features a refined industrial interior highlighted by neon installations throughout the dining area. The wooden and metal banquet seating with sketch-style murals are paired with dark steel and concrete beams to create an intricate space. The East Village store is also the brand’s first location to adopt an acousto-optic system to create a comprehensive and immersive dining experience. Designed by a team of pioneering visual artists in China, the store is equipped with 20 full HD LED-backlit displays. Using traditional Chinese aesthetic elements, such as Chinese characters, architecture, landscapes, and more recreated through digital media, the brand hopes to present an abstract and contemporary Chinese art expression.
“East Village is known for its diverse population and trendsetting culinary scene, making it a natural fit for our US flagship store debut,” says Jay. “The first time we came to the East Village, the young and exciting vibe immediately reminded us of Xujiahui, where our first store was founded in Shanghai in 2004. We chose the East Village for our first store in Manhattan because it’s not only in line with the brand’s adventurous and innovative personality but also a perfect place for us to introduce authentic and elevated Chinese food through trendy Chinese hotpot to a wider audience, which has always been the mission of The Dolar Shop.”
East Village is one of three to open soon in Manhattan; neighborhoods like Chelsea and Midtown are on the horizon for the brand’s next stage of expansion. With North America as a key market, The Dolar Shop has a five-year goal to open 10-15 stores in total in the US.