Cake is a modern conglomeration of a bakery, a wine bar, and a cooking classroom. It is located at 1911 W Main Street in downtown Richmond, between the Virginia Commonwealth University campus and South Boulevard. Due to its location, Cake targets emerging professionals and millennials, so while it pays homage to the classic idea of a bakery with its physical design and brand identity, it also must attract a certain clientele.
The graphics show the logo, an icon for the bakery, an icon for the wine bar and an icon for the cooking classroom.
As you walk up to Cake, you are met with a patio covered with a slatted pink pergola. Once inside, a host greets you at the host stand that doubles as a refrigerator. From there, you are either taken to the waiting area next to the host stand or to the dining room.
There is a small initial dining room off to the side of the host stand that is seated first. Beyond that is a much larger, separate dining room. The two dining areas are separated so that on a slow, Thursday morning, a party of three isn't sat in a large, empty dining area, left to feel alone. The main dining area is rather spread out, both to benefit guests of Cake, but also the wait staff with larger walkways to allow more ease of movement throughout the space.
A bar is along the window facing West Main Street. Behind the overflow dining room is an area designated to servers, housing their computers to place orders and a separate drink station.
Behind the server station is where the restrooms are found. First the women's restroom, then the men's restroom.
Across from the restroom and server station is the kitchen, which is home to the back of house office, staff restrooms, alcohol storage, dry storage, a walk-in refrigerator, dish storage, a dish washer, three drink stations and more computers for server or manager use.
On the other side of the kitchen is the cooking classroom, complete with its own entrance, space for twenty-two students, two refrigerators and ten hood/range combinations for teaching purposes.
In the back corner of the space, next to the cooking classroom, is the to-go and delivery area, also equipped with its own entrance that leads to an alley way that is accessible from West Main Street. The delivery area has a built-in garage that houses the delivery van when not in use. The to-go area has storage shelves for boxes, bags and cups and it also has two refrigerators stocked with delicious desserts to be taken home.
To create a more defined language within the space, one of the first things I changed was the Main Street façade of the building, adding in another section of windows in the middle and another at the rear of the building.
The windows themselves also were changed from standard windows to windows with extended mullions that doubled as a display case. In the first two sections of windows found in the preliminary dining area, vintage colored mixers are displayed in all of the window units.
In the last five sections of windows found in the bar area, the same mixers are displayed in the top two rows of window units, while the bottom three rows of window units act as shelves for liquor, wine and glasses.
While researching millennials, I found that one of their top requirements in a restaurant space is transparency. They want to know where their food is being made, who is making it and how.
Because of this need for transparency, I opened up the kitchen and turned it into an entertainment aspect in the restaurant, where large circular windows separate the kitchen and dining areas, so every move made can be seen.
The circular windows mimic the placement and size of the exterior windows, but are complete circles, so as to mimic the branding of the space and the existing structure of the space.
The faceted partition that separates the host area from the rest of the dining area is also created by extending the placement and size of the exterior windows, except it is offset a little bit so it does not interfere with the windows into the kitchen.
When walking up to Cake, you are immediately greeted by a fenced in patio that is covered with a pink pergola. Strings of light are delicately weaved around the beams in the pergola to generate a romantic, ambient light. The patio is accessed through the preliminary dining room, and eighteen people can be sat out on the patio at a time.
To the left of the main entrance is a large window, sporting the Cake logo to provide a little bit of visual privacy to guests who are waiting to be sat in the waiting area directly behind it.
Upon entering Cake, you are met with a smiling host behind their stand. You have the option to request a table or order a quick cupcake to go from the host, whose stand doubles as refrigerated storage for baked goodies.
To the left of the host stand is built-in seating with open standing room in between. The host stand is separated from the rest of the dining room and the bar by a faceted partition that curves from the ceiling into a wall, then into the floors that cover the rest of the space. A back-lit logo and a large cupcake etched into the window separating the host stand and the kitchen identify the restaurant.
The main dining area seats 104 guests, with an additional twenty-two spaces for guests at the bar. Even though there are so many available seats, quite a bit of space can be found between each table to encourage a more intimate dining experience where the guest is encouraged to "camp out" and stay as long as they wish.
Three large, circular windows can be found in the dining area looking into the mixing, piping and decorating stations in the kitchen, so the view allows for transparency required by millennials, but also creates an entertainment aspect in the space.
In the main dining area, two-top, four-top, six-top and eight-top tables and booths are utilized. Each table has a round concrete top with a knife-edge and a black metal base. Tables are accompanied by custom chairs made of black leather seats and backs and black metal legs. Each booth is squared off with a rounded edge that sticks out on the exterior edge. The booth seats are extensions of the pink wood floors with the main structure being pink wood and the seat cushion being made of the same black leather that is found on the chairs.
Above the smaller two-top, four-top and six-top tables and booths is a whimsical, abstract light fixture that is created using the metal band found around wine barrels. Above the larger eight-top tables, a cluster of lights made from vintage mixer blades can be found. Both light fixtures give off more of an ambient light, so recessed can lights are also used for more direct lighting.
The main dining room is large enough that it can be used for many different things, like simply dining, trivia night, a bachelorette party, or anything else your heart desires.
Along the back wall of the dining room is a feature wall made up of vintage, patina-ed cake pans in varying sizes, shapes, finishes.
The bar is standing height, with a draft machine on the back wall and shelves built into the windows to hold the rest of the alcohol. The bar is finished similarly to the rest of the restaurant, with a concrete knife-edge bar top, pink wood base and bar stools that mimic the same language as the rest of the chairs.
A clean, graphic approach was taken when it came to designing the women's restroom. A small, circular white tile with black grout was used in the floor and walls.
A mounted countertop with sinks is found along one wall, with pink stainless steel restroom stalls along the opposite wall.
The back wall away from the entrance to the restroom is a large, pink mirrored surface with a circles etched in a grid-like pattern.
With the age of selfies among us, I wanted to design a space where one felt comfortable taking a selfie or a group shot, so on the other side of the restrooms stalls is a little nook, designed specifically for selfies.
The design of the cooking classroom is a conglomeration of the kitchen and the dining area. The work stations are designed similarly to the tables in the dining room, except they have the same stainless steel countertops and black metal bases as the work stations in the kitchen. The pink wood floor and white walls are also carried through from the dining area into the classroom.
Along the wall shared with the kitchen is a graphic wall with large dramatic images of scenes one might find when cooking, such as flour floating through the air or a mess of cooking utensils.
There is also an opportunity for the cooking classroom to double as a retail space, where students can try out new cooking instruments, such as mixers or rolling pins or knives, to decide whether or not they would like to purchase them.
Being a millennial, I enjoy experiences and I enjoy a take-away from the experience. I personally have my own collection of wine glasses, mugs, cups and mason jars from restaurants, breweries, and retail establishments. The goal here was to design a glass that people would want to steal for their own collection. Of course, the glasses would also be offered for sale at Cake.
Two separate menus were designed, one that highlights different types of desserts and one that highlights different types of wine. Both menus have a pairing section after each item that informs customers which dessert pairs well with the wine of their interest or vice versa. The menus were laid out this way so a customer could come in to Cake, know precisely what glass of wine they would like, and only require one menu, as the suggested dessert pairing is already there.
The menus are designed so that when placed on the smallest two-top table, a menu can be placed in front of each person and fit on the tables perfectly. Of course, that also means they can fit across the larger four-top, six-top and eight-top tables just as well.
For part of my final presentation, I was tasked with constructing a scale version of a two-top table, complete with plates, silverware and linens, menus, branded coasters and wine glasses.
The tabletop is two feet in diameter and made of a lightly colored cast concrete.
To further the brand identity of the space, I also completed mock-ups of uniforms for servers to wear while working. The uniforms consist of a three-quarter length black and white striped shirt, black jeans that are cuffed at the bottom, and black non-slip shoes.
Cake has its own to-go area, equipped with a built-in garage to house a delivery van. The delivery van is branded with the Cake Pink color with the logo on the sides and back, and a mirrored logo on the hood of the van to be seen in a rear-view mirror.