Original Pancake House
Hired to create the interior for a new branch of The Original Pancake House, we not only kept in mind the ethos of this venerable 64-year old company, but the reputation of our client’s original franchise, which had been operating successfully in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood for over 50 years.
Ambiance is a key ingredient in the success of any restaurant, as much a branding element as the personality of the chef, the courtesy of the staff (think of Chic Filet’s “My pleasure”), or a house specialty, such as Bananas Foster at Brennan’s in New Orleans. The client’s existing outlet expressed an old-fashioned homeyness, a look that worked well in an historic community proud of its established homes and tree-lined streets. The new restaurant is located in suburban Oak Lawn, a town experiencing a wave of home construction and a concomitant rise in new, millennial-driven businesses, such as the Mariano’s supermarket. Our goal with the design for the new restaurant was to combine the warm feeling of welcome that characterized the Beverly franchise, with a more up-to-the minute sensibility that speaks to Oak Lawn as a growing community of discerning and visually fluent consumers.
Our program combined an informed use of materials and carefully conceived spaces. Black and white photography, industrial lettering, and vintage posters of food products telegraph a sense of the company’s history and its emphasis on quality ingredients. Reclaimed wood, a diner-style counter, and traditional booths inject a sense of authenticity, while an upbeat color palette — apple green and orange — generate a contemporary liveliness. The result is a nuanced, retro vibe that appeals to both younger and more mature patrons.
The Original Pancake House is known for its easy-going appeal and the high quality of its dishes, a combination that attracts a considerable flow of party traffic. Knowing that this new outlet would draw everything from family reunions to business meetings, we made certain that the furnishings allowed the middle of the restaurant to be reconfigured as needed, and also created a totally private space that could accommodate up to 50 people. Within the first few months of opening, this new outlet realized a number of event bookings.
As a testament success of our design and its quantifiable return on environment, The Original Pancake House corporate office has not only declared the Oak Lawn location the best designed franchise, but encouraged a new franchisee to visit the restaurant before launching an outlet in Normal, Illinois. Impressed with the look, energy, and optimal functionality we achieved here, the franchisee has engaged Mary Cook Associates to provide a unique design offering an enhanced experience at the restaurant in Normal.