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Here Are the Stunning JBFA Restaurant Design Finalists

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Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Here's a look inside the six restaurants whose designers have been nominated for 2014 James Beard Awards for Outstanding Restaurant Design. These restaurants span the country (and even into Canada) and their designs range from sleekly minimal to luxuriously extravagant. As like last year, this year's nominees are separated into two categories. In the 75 Seats and Under category, the nominees are Tria Taproom in Philadelphia, Westward in Seattle, and Grace in Chicago. In the 76 Seats and Over category the nominees are Shed in Healdsburg, CA, Hawksworth Restaurant in Vancouver, and Virgin Atlantic Airway's Clubhouse at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. The winners will be revealed at the James Beard Awards ceremony in New York City on May 5. Have a look:

75 Seats and Under

Tria Taproom, Philadelphia, PA. [Photos: Alyssa Maloof]

Tria Taproom

Location: Philadelphia
Owner: Jon Myerow, Michael McCaulley
Designer: Assimilation Design Lab, Otto Architects LLC (David Whipple and Josh Otto)
Tria Taproom opened in Philadelphia this past November. The design keeps the focus squarely on the high-tech 40-tap draft system built into the blackened steel and Carrera marble accented wall behind the bar. The space has minimal embellishments of "distractions," as owner Jon Myerow puts it. He tells Eater that the "aim is to create a warm, natural, comfortable room that's perfect for enjoying conversations ... We also avoid distractions like televisions, live entertainment, karaoke, games and the like." Another unique feature of Tria Taproom is the lack of what Myerow calls "extroverted branding" which he says keeps the spaces "non-commercial."

Myerow turned to previous Tria group collaborators Assimilation Design Lab and Otto Architects because he found "their clean, simple design philosophy" on par with his group's. Per Otto Architect's website, part of the design process included "carv[ing] away existing partitions and finishes to reveal the rich texture of historic building fabric, in the process discovering the large window that now naturally lights the rear dining area." The tables and chairs are made of reclaimed Douglas Fir wood, while the redwood bar was actually "salvaged" from a previous Tria restaurant.

Westward, Seattle. [Photo: S. Pratt]


Location: Seattle
Owner: Joshua Henderson/Huxley Wallace Collective
Designer: Huxley Wallace Collective (Joshua Henderson and Matthew Parker)
Seattle restaurateur Josh Henderson opened his water-inspired restaurant Westward in September with its sister oyster bar and grocery Little Gull. Westward resides right on the shores of Lake Union, its waterfront views maximized by large windows and an outdoor lounge of Adirondack chairs.

Shortly after opening, Henderson told Eater that his goals for the design were to "accentuate the fact that this is a Seattle restaurant" and to make the space "beautiful." To that end, his Huxley Wallace Collective filled the space with nautical elements, wood accents, and graphic touches. Per the Huxley Wallace website, "each seat has unique views of the lake and the city and a large deck, fire pit and beach area provides space to sit outside and sip cocktails in the summer, or snuggle in the restaurants wool blankets in the winter." Customers might even see boats pull up to park at the restaurant's dock. Westward won Eater Seattle's Stone Cold Stunner Award in 2013.


Location: Chicago
Owner: Curtis Duffy, Michael Muser
Designer: Lawton Stanley Architects (Maria Contreras, Christopher Lawton, and Micah Stanley)
Grace is the Chicago restaurant opened in late 2012 by Eater's 2013 Chef of the Year Curtis Duffy and general manager/partner Michael Muser. Lawton Stanley Architects created a design that features stone, wool, leather, bronze, and steel, all presented in a "natural, minimally finished state." Not quite a full blown open kitchen, Grace's white and stainless steel kitchen is enclosed in a glass box visible from the dining room.

Muser tells Eater that the idea behind the design was to "develop an environment that was modern, sleek and contemporary with a minimalist element, but at the same time communicate a sense of warmth to our guests." Noting that it can be hard to achieve that balance between modern and hard, Muser says the design team stayed away from blacks and greys, focusing instead on warm tones. "When we described what we wanted the restaurant to be, we could tell that they really got it," Muser says of the design team at Lawton Stanley. "They understood the level of refinement and we were confident that they would execute down to the very last detail." Grace was a finalist for Eater Chicago's Stone Cold Stunner Award in 2013 and in his four star review of the restaurant the Chicago Tribune's Phil Vettel praised the design as "a study in unforced elegance and understated luxury."

76 Seats and Over

Shed, Healdsburg, CA. [Photos: Patricia Chang]


Location: Healdsburg, CA
Owner: Cindy Daniel and Doug Lipton
Designer: Jensen Architects, (Scott Davis, Mark Jensen, Lincoln Lighthill, Dean Orr, and Andy Pluess)
Sonoma's "modern grange" Shed opened in Healdsburg in April 2013. Married owners Cindy Daniel and Doug Lipton have created a multi-use space that is home to a "café, coffee bar and fermentation bar," a carefully curated grocery, and a second-floor meeting room. To achieve Shed's mission "to celebrate and nurture the connection between good farming, good cooking and good eating," Jensen Architects designed a building that is fully open to the street, "inviting people in and letting the activity spill out." And it's big too, clocking in at nearly 11,000 square-feet.

The largely recycled, pre-engineered metal building is a riff on the area's local barn structures and complements Shed's environmentally-aware ethos by maximizing "material efficiency and cost effectiveness." The design also employs plenty of reclaimed wood and locally-made tiles, allows natural night to flow through the building, and comes together to create an impactful space that is respectful of its beautiful setting.

Hawksworth Restaurant, Vancouver, Canada.. [Photos: Alvin Lee]

Hawksworth Restaurant

Location: Vancouver
Chef: David Hawksworth
Designer: Munge Leung (Sai Leung and Alessandro Munge)
Opened in 2011, Hawksworth Restaurant's lavish design has made it a standout in Vancouver. Eater Vancouver has described chef David Hawksworth's restaurant at Vancouver's Rosewood Hotel Georgia as one of a kind: "The city's love of all things casual stops at the door here: nowhere in Vancouver has such an beautiful room to enjoy truly fine dining." Hawksworth collaborated with the firm Munge Leung to create an elegant design across four distinct rooms: a bar and lounge with leather-paneled walls; the main dining area is the dazzling "Pearl Room" which is fittingly decorated with pearl banquettes and a sparkling chandelier; there's an art room featuring work by local artist Rodney Graham; and the first floor's private York Room takes its inspiration from the '20s, paying homage to the hotel's history.

While there is certainly an extravagant touch to the fine dining restaurant's design, co-designer Alessandro Munge tells Metropolis Magazine that the design is meant to complement the cuisine. "When that dish hits the table, your enjoyment of that dish also depends on what you sit on and what the table is made of," he says. "When I meet with a chef, I don't just need to know what kind of food he or she wants to serve. I need to know why he or she wants to serve it here." Vancouver Magazine awarded Hawksworth Restaurant with their Best Design award back in 2012.

Virgin Atlantic Airway's Clubhouse, Newark Liberty International Airport, NJ. [Photos: Virgin Atlantic Airways]

Virgin Atlantic Airway's Clubhouse at Newark Liberty International Airport

Location: Newark, NJ
Designer: Slade Architecture (Hayes Slade and James Slade)
Virgin Atlantic unveiled their slick Clubhouse at Newark Liberty International Airport back in November 2012. In a statement, Virgin describes the feel of the 5,000 square-foot Clubhouse as "with a mixture of NYC's downtown flair and Virgin Atlantic's warmth and individuality." Slade Architecture placed the cocktail bar at the heart of the lounge, decorating it with "crystal features that refract natural light." Per the website, the Clubhouse is "relaxed, friendly, luxurious" and "breathes lower Manhattan." A "chilled atmosphere" is embodied in flat screen TVs, "private pods for a pre-flight snooze," a screening room, and "designer furniture" like plush sofas. The Clubhouse was part of the airline's £100 million (roughly $16.6 million USD) investment in its Upper Class product.

· Here Are the 2014 James Beard Awards Finalists [-E-]
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