When prompted with the difficult question of â€œWhat is Bob Evans Inc. selling?â€ we were forced to analyze every detail of the restaurant experience and pinpoint exactly what consumers expect when they enter a food service location. It all starts with the food. How can architecture respond to the food items served on a blue-rimmed plate at Bob Evans and what is the role of architecture to facilitate such experiences? The best way to begin to answer these questions is to understand the process of how the consumer receives the necessary information to engage with the meal they are about to receive. In an attempt to re-conceptualize the perception of Bob Evans Inc. we chose to analyze what a Bob Evans may look like in the heart of an urban college campus.
We chose to place our site at the corner of Lane Avenue and High Street. Automatically we were forced to confront the challenge of dealing with the corner. We decided the best way to utilize the cornerâ€™s potential and connection to campus was to place the entry to the restaurant on the corner and continue that axis throughout the entire building. When you first enter the building, you must make a decision to either choose the â€˜Expressâ€™ or â€˜Hybridâ€™ approach to receiving your food items.
Express is a quick, grab-and-go approach that allows consumers the opportunity to be in and out of the building in under 5-7 minutes. While selecting your food items from the grab-and-go wall, consumers can catch glimpses into the kitchen where the food is being prepared, instilling a sense of freshness knowing that the food has not been sitting on the wall for an extended period of time. We did not want the kitchen to be fully exposed in order to conceal parts of the food preparation process that are not as appealing.
If the consumer chooses the Hybrid approach, they will continue along the initial axis down a sloping ramp to a separate dining area. Along the ramp, they will stop at one of the 11 ordering kiosks where they will place their order via touch screen and receive a ticket with their order number displayed on the top. While ordering, they will see the fresh food items displayed along the storage wall which lines the entire length of the ramp. Finally, once they have placed their order and received their ticket, they have the opportunity to choose one of the many seating options available in the dining area. The back wall which connects the Hybrid dining to the outdoor patio is lined with hanging planters where some of the fresh produce is grown.
While dining at our Bob Evans, consumers begin to understand the process by which the food is grown, stored, prepared, and consumed. The architecture responds to this process by offering single surfaces that provide multiple functions. The back wall not only offers a space that allows for the growing of produce, but also connects the Hybrid dining to the patio by providing bench options that continue through both sides of the wall. The Hybrid ordering wall allows consumers to order their food, while also acting as a storage container which the kitchen staff actively uses throughout the day. Finally, the Express grab-and-go wall provides consumers the opportunity to select their individually wrapped food items while also experiencing the kitchenâ€™s processing and preparation of the food displayed on the wall.
Overall, our design offers simple solutions to some of the most complex questions. We are selling a sophisticated and interactive experience that provides consumers with a better understanding of how architecture and the food service business can become a system of connections to provide a thoughtful and intriguing space to enjoy farm fresh food.