In the case of fast-casual restaurant Modmarket, its name speaks volumes. With a modern aesthetic that abstractly references a traditional food market, the 2,400-sq.-ft. eatery in Boulder, Colo., was designed by Denver firm Roth + Sheppard Architects as a slick, contemporary backdrop to feature and complement the menu.
“To extend on the sense of controlled chaos that is prevalent in an outdoor food market, the interior of Modmarket is designed like a linear street. Diners can approach a vendor (food prep person) and feel like they are being personally attended to as their meal is prepared in front of them,” explains Jeff Sheppard, Roth + Sheppard principal in charge. “Since the ingredients are fresh, organic, and locally grown, the interior is white and minimal.”
Sheppard adds, “Sustainable and ‘green' products were specified to enhance the connection between the architecture and food concept. Exposed concrete, bamboo wood veneer tables, and smooth white walls combine to create a minimal yet organic feel.” White artificial grass on the counter’s front panel appears like snow and subtly recalls the snowcaps of the Rocky Mountain Flatirons just to the west of Boulder, and the slot of wheat grass inset in the length of the dining room’s main wall references the menu’s fresh, local ingredients.
Dealing with a challenging, long, narrow floor plate (85 ft. by 28 ft.), the design team of Sheppard, project architect Kelly Smith, and designer Adam Harding had to figure out how to maximize space, which they accomplished with linear design scheme. Sheppard says they used the opportunity to create a “light tube” metaphor, expressed with a curved ceiling along the long, skinny space and opening both ends to the Colorado landscape. The back wall is glazed from floor to ceiling to let in copious daylighting, and indirect sources offer ambient light that refracts off the curved ceiling. The open kitchen is set up in a linear fashion, revealing all areas of food preparation, and a 100-ft.-long banquette functions as a series of two-top tables that may be combined to form a variety of group scenarios.
Anthony Pigliacampo, Modmarket co-founder and co-owner (along with his best friend Rob McColgan), attributes much of the restaurant’s success to its design. “Our space has become one of our main marketing tools—it sets us apart from the competition and makes it easy for someone to tell the story of our concept,” he says. “Our goal was to create a dining experience that was different than what was already out there at our price point [around $10]. Today, the space’s architectural design is one of the pivotal ways this gets communicated to our customer.”
In a highly collaborative process with design savvy clients, Sheppard says his design team, “created a modern environment that is minimal yet warm and inviting, that is open and light yet comfortable and flexible.” He continues, “Most significantly we created a restaurant like no other, a restaurant that uses design to speak to the purity, clarity, and simplicity of the products being.”
Pigliacampo adds, “Because Roth + Sheppard helped us create a visual environment that ‘sticks’ in people’s minds, we’re guaranteed that Modmarket will never be confused with any other restaurant…. Very few people leave a fast-casual restaurant and Twitter about how cool the design was, but that happens all the time with Modmarket.”