Bar Design, Equipment Supply & Installation, Furniture
Cultivating relationships and making the right partnerships are key to success in any business, and the new Hazelwood Food + Drink in St. Louis Park, Minn., is a prime example. It all started when Jerry Baack, CEO of Bridgewater Bank, reached out to Pat Woodring, CEO, and Scott Foster, COO, of Nova Restaurant Group to bring the Hazelwood Food + Drink brand to its first suburban Minneapolis location. The upscale comfort food Hazelwood is known for, combined with its classic style with an urban edge, provided the draw that Baack was looking for in the restaurant meant to bring attention to the new office building.
Woodring and Foster immediately reached out to the team at Boelter Premier to help with the project, drawing on the longstanding relationship the team at Nova Restaurant group cultivated with the Boelter equipment and design specialists. “I’ve known the people at Boelter even before I started doing business with them, and I think being friends with them helps to bring a comfortable, easy tone to our work partnerships,” Foster says.
Brian Cepek and Cheri Smith were the project managers working on the St. Louis Park project, and both brought experience with the Hazelwood brand to this new business park project, which included a full support kitchen, a dry storage area and a bar. “We had worked on the other Hazelwood Food + Drink locations, having just recently completed a remodel of the Tonka Bay location,” Cepek says. This meant the Boelter team was familiar with the menu and the chef’s preferences, helping everything go smoothly in this new, unique location.
Creating an Experience
The centerpiece of Hazelwood Food + Drink is the large, exhibition-style kitchen, a trademark of Foster, who is not only the managing partner in the company but is also a chef himself. Foster worked closely with the architects and the Boelter team to design a kitchen that would provide a comfortable, inspiring space for the chef and his team to work while at the same time entertaining guests and allowing them to feel a part of the experience. A Marana Forni pizza oven and J&R rotisserie play an integral role in putting out the brick-oven pizzas and woodfired clay pots the restaurants are known for.
“The freestanding pizza oven is exposed, allowing people to see the pizzas being made,” Cepek says. The pizza oven and the rotisserie take up a lot of footprint in the kitchen and each have its own ductwork, but the Boelter team rose to the challenge, finding a way to get all the necessary equipment and utilities integrated into the kitchen. “It was nice to be working with a new building, as we were able to work directly with the architects and general contractor to get the details of the design worked out,” Cepek says.
Another aspect of the St. Louis Park location that differed from other Hazelwood Food + Drink locations were the large windows of the office park. While some were closed off or frosted over to allow for better placement of equipment in the kitchen, the windows on the front-of-the-house side let in a lot of light, helping enhance the open atmosphere of the kitchen.
Finding Creative Solutions
Designing a full-service restaurant within an office park brought a few challenges unique to the situation. In order to take full advantage of the first-floor space for the kitchen and dining area, Cepek and Smith worked out a way to create a dry storage space in the parking garage. “We took about four parking spaces and closed them in, and now that area contains dry storage, a walk-in cooler, and beer kegs,” Cepek says. “What’s nice is they never have to bother with bringing kegs up to the bar, the tap just runs up from the basement. It also opened up more workspace in the kitchen.”
Clients that work with Boelter appreciate the team’s willingness to go the extra mile, and the Hazelwood project was no exception. Foster had designed a large artisan table for community dining options by the bar, and Cepek came up with a creative solution to make sure everything would work as planned before creating the custom table.
“The idea was that because of the way the table was shaped, you could sit a large group of ten people, or two small groups of five,” Cepek says. “We wanted to be sure everything fit in the space, and that the bar stools were positioned right, before the manufacturer built the custom table, so we had the company make a sample out of particle board that we could use to visualize it in the space and take all the measurements.”
Making a Seamless Transition
Making recommendations and sourcing equipment is only the beginning of the work Boelter does on any project. For the Hazelwood Food + Drink at St. Louis Park, Cepek and Smith were involved every step of the way, all the way through until after opening day. “Their expertise and professionalism makes my job seamless,” Foster says. “They take care of all the details such as ordering, shipping the equipment, working with fabricators, overseeing installation and working with the health inspectors. I know when I work with Boelter, installations will be done professionally, and everything will come together as planned.”
For additional details on this project, check out our Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Magazine Design of the Month feature here.
Read more about Brian Cepek, and see some of his extensive project portfolio.