“You’ve got to see the bathroom.”
More guests are sharing this sentiment with their dining companions as restaurants seriously up their restroom game. And for good reason. Your brand doesn’t end at your restroom door, and the loo is an important barometer of your restaurant’s coolness as well as your attention to detail.
“One of the most imporant things in hospitality design is creating an amazing experience everywhere, especially in the bathroom,” says Jay Valgora, founder of Studio V Architecture, New York, and the architect and designer of the recently opened Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs in Orlando.
Morimoto Asia is the first pan-Asian restaurant by famed “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, who partnered with multi-concept restaurant powerhouse Patina Restaurant Group for the 474-seat project. Here, Valgora practices what he preaches, taking the contemporary and dramatic vibe of the cavernous two-story, 23,000 square foot restaurant into the restrooms.
The most striking feature is a wall of variegated sculptural tile in a gleaming black finish that produces a pebbled, reflective surface. “Light and texture are themes throughout the restaurant,” explains Valgora, “and we wanted to capture that liquid quality of light in the restrooms as well.” The tile is repeated in red in the individual toilet spaces, delivering a jolt of color when the door is open.
“We used red sparingly and for strength,” says Valgora. “We wanted to be careful to avoid the clichés of an Asian restaurant.”
Framed contemporary black and white photographs line the wall. They feature men from the countries (Japan, Korea, China, Thailand and Indonesia) represented on Morimoto’s menu. Similarly, the men’s room features photos of women. “This was an idea that Morimoto loved because this is his first pan-Asian restaurant,” explains Valgora.
While restroom design might be more function than form, smart restaurants know you can still make an impact in the bathroom.