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Jan. 9, 2014 / Barbara

Restaurant and Retail: An Immersive Brand Experience

For Tommy Bahama, the inclusion of restaurant/bar is an extension of the brand that keeps you coming back for more.

Putting restaurants in retail spaces isn’t a new idea. But recently, restaurants in retail are gaining new currency with top brands (including Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers), prompting Oculus to devote an article to the trend featuring our design of the Tommy Bahama Manhattan Island Flagship.

Retailers know that whatever keeps you in the store longer is a good idea. When a restaurant in a store becomes a destination in itself, it’s even better. Fred’s at Barneys New York is a good example of that… it is a place to see and be seen, setting the standard for upscale eateries in luxury stores. But Fred’s is tucked on the top floor and seems far removed from the store proper. We sought a more immediate and visceral connection at Tommy Bahama.

For the restaurant and bar we designed at Tommy, the approach was less exclusive and more directly linked to the retail experience. Store, restaurant and bar are visually and spatially connected. An atrium was created in the main double-height space of the store that connects with the restaurant above. You can hear the murmur of conversation and the clinking of glasses. Custom lanterns hanging in the atrium can be seen from both the restaurant and the store, a shared element that ties the spaces together.

Also while in the store, you can look across the display window behind the cash wrap, past the beautiful art deco lobby of the Fred French Building, and see the illuminated screen of the Marlin Bar. From the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Marlin Bar, you see the monumental stair that leads to the restaurant above. It’s all connected… and there is a reason.

For Tommy Bahama, the restaurant/bar is an extension of the brand experience. It’s not hidden away; it invites you in. The total lifestyle experience of this retail “urban resort”, with its relaxed clothing and promise of fun, extends to the signature tropical drink and coconut shrimp that await you just steps away. It’s a win-win for the retailer – and the neighborhood - if it’s done right. In Tommy’s case, the restaurant/bar has become a destination in itself, attracting workers from the building and commuters snagging a happy hour drink before heading going to Grand Central. Families and theater-goers patronize the restaurant and get introduced to the brand.

The fare offered - in both the store and the restaurant - is specific and on point with the story of Tommy Bahama. It’s a total immersion, and it feels good. You’ll be back for more… and that’s the idea.

Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Retail Published in Oculus - Architect: Neumann & Rudy

Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Retail Published in Oculus - Architect: Neumann & Rudy