Futuristic Features with a Personal Touch: Square Roots Kitchen Gets a Permanent Location


Square Roots New Kitchen

Square Roots Kitchen’s brick-and-mortar space is tech-driven without being impersonal, serving up fresh, healthy food quickly for the busy professional. Our client had outgrown their commissary kitchen beginnings as demand surged for their brand of delicious, speedy offerings that bridged the gap between a quick bite and having to throw New Year’s resolutions out the window.

Touchscreens make the ordering process efficient

LED light strips on the ceiling and in the ‘order-up’ cubbies add a futuristic flair

To incorporate SRK’s desires for an ultra-efficient layout, reminiscent of SF’s futuristic Eatsa, we seamlessly transitioned a former pizza parlor into a modern, tech-savvy space that optimizes user-experience by making it intuitive and short on wait time so no one squanders their precious lunch hour in line. We achieved this by outfitting the space with touch screens, which are integrated into SRK’s dining experience so that food is ready quickly and all of the customer’s questions are answered.

However, our client also wanted to differentiate themselves from other restaurants that substitute cashiers with technology; they wanted to keep SRK firmly grounded in the service aspect of hospitality, by creating a welcoming environment for customers with natural materials, and a reassuring glimpse into the kitchen to counteract the vending-machine like feeling that certain automated restaurants can conjure. To allow customers to peek into the kitchen, we opened up the dividing wall between the kitchen and ordering/dining areas, creating an undulating ceiling with LED light strips to add some visual interest to the space while achieving our client’s goals. More on that below.

Existing Conditions

The former pizza parlor had an abundance of stainless steel kitchen equipment that we could repurpose to finish SRK’s project. This helped our client save on costs, while also minimizing waste from purchasing all new equipment and/or tossing the old. The concrete floors were also reused.

Custom Millwork Makes the Space

To best guide our design strategy, we put ourselves in the customer’s shoes, following their journey from entering SRK to dressing up their order with condiments, to eating their meal or taking it back to their office or home.

Ordering was already established with the touch screens, but with no one to ask where to grab food, we wanted to make sure this was addressed clearly using design strategy. We custom designed the cubbies in the pick-up area with eye-catching lime green acrylite, a translucent material that fit our client’s budgetary desires and visual palette while allowing for LEDs to beam through.

We’ve already covered how sometimes taking green action is as simple as making sure recycling stations are clearly marked, so the decision is a no-brainer. We custom-designed the trash/recycling station with this in mind, using a beautiful, clean maple to echo the wall panels and custom steel tray shelving.

We custom designed the counter to allow customers to observe, access and easily follow the flow of traffic. All of the furniture in the front-of-house was custom designed to fit the space and serve a high capacity of people during the lunch rush.

Wayfinding the Customer Experience

We and our client both wanted to utilize visual cues to optimize how people moved through SRK. As veteran hospitality space designers (and frequent hospitality customers ourselves) we know how frustrating it can be when you enter a room and feel unsure as to where to stand, where to order and where to get information on menu items. This is why SRK wanted to opt for a touchscreen format so that customers could quickly access menu items, desired notes or modifications, product pricing and even allergen information easily without having to wait to ask someone and then feeling rushed to pull the trigger on their order.

We varied the height of the maple countertop to allow the customer a glimpse behind the scenes as they move through the line. Since the touchscreens were part of the design process and intent from the beginning, we were able to seamlessly incorporate them into the millwork. Designing with technology in mind means custom-designed items have even more longevity since there is no need for retrofitting.

Creative Design Feature: Ceiling Plane

Laura takes the touchscreen ordering systems for a spin

The bespoke ceiling illuminated by modern track lighting was the focal point of SRK’s design, communicating a modern aesthetic without imitating blade runner’s austere techno-future. We’re all for clean lines, but that doesn’t have to mean spotless white rooms! The stripes of LED lighting subtly guide the customer’s eye in order to pick-up so that the process is intuitive and pleasant; not frustrating.