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Pursuits
Businessweek

Restaurants Can Be Saved Through Design, Says David Rockwell

We know the business model is broken, and the spaces aren’t safe. This plan rethinks how restaurants can function profitably in the future.

David Rockwell sits in New York’s Union Square Cafe, which his eponymous practice designed before the era of social distancing.

David Rockwell sits in New York’s Union Square Cafe, which his eponymous practice designed before the era of social distancing.

Photographer: Laurel Golio/Bloomberg

Even in good times, restaurants operate on slim margins. Owners battle unmanageable rents and struggle to pay meager wages, as much of their venue’s real estate sits unused for hours every day. Now that diners are threatened by airborne pathogens, management is finding the spaces difficult to keep sanitary—if they’re open at all.

Bloomberg Pursuits asked the Rockwell Group, renowned for designing such destinations as New York’s Nobu 57 and the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, to share a vision of the future that solves these structural problems—a multipurpose hub that’s economically and environmentally viable. In these renderings, the restaurant serves as a community center, grocery, and educational space during the day. At night, diners sit down to eat indoors, and various components can be rearranged for privacy and distance in the midst of communality.