Blending Functionality and Design: Office Tavern Grill

When Morristown, New Jersey-based 40North Restaurant Group acquired the Office Bar & Grill in Ridgewood, New Jersey last year, the team knew they wanted to rebrand. They tasked RSC Architects (RSC) with redesigning the 6,800-square-foot space to turn it into an establishment with an open and welcoming atmosphere that would appeal to all diners.

The result is the renamed The Office Tavern Grill, which recently re-opened at 32-34 Chestnut Street.

New features include a new kitchen including an open pizza oven, full renovation of back-of-house spaces to improve efficiency, and a new façade, creating an enlivened street presence with improved signage, lighting and finishes. Special attention was paid to the bar layout with an intricate, fully-integrated tap system for 40 rotating craft beers.

“As architect of record on the project, RSC was able to bring the restaurant up to date, incorporating modern hospitality trends that appeal to a wider range of customers,” said RSC Architects’ senior project manager, Ralph Walker. “We were able to blend technical restaurant elements, including point of sale and low wattage signage, with high-end aesthetics to create a welcoming atmosphere and a more efficient establishment consistent with the updated brand.”

RSC’s scope on the project included full architectural services: coordination of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural, and fire protection engineering as well as a detailed design of the kitchen, bar and other support areas. RSC partnered with Jackson Creative Group, which provided interior design services, and KEA Engineers for the necessary MEP updates.

The design blends classic ‘Americana Tavern’ features including heavy wood trim and exposed fasteners with updated design elements including stylized graphics, chalkboards, integrated liquor displays and monitors. The restaurant design both reinforces its historic roots and highlights the traditional charm of the Village of Ridgewood, according to the design team.

The custom open pizza oven was placed in the dining room to not only utilize the space in the kitchen more efficiently, but to also create a show piece for diners who are sitting nearby.

“Our Ridgewood location is such a beloved restaurant and a great neighborhood place, and we believe the community loves the newly revamped Office Tavern Grill,” said Steve Baliva, vice president of operations of the 40North Restaurant Group, the restaurant’s new owner. “We have so many new and exciting offerings for our guests that The Office Tavern Grill is quickly becoming a favorite in Ridgewood again.”

The updated kitchen included all new equipment, walk-in coolers, updated point of sale, kitchen order, sound and security systems. RSC worked closely with the equipment vendors, kitchen managers and executive chef to ensure the equipment layout was consistent with 40North’s requirements. 

“We’re experts at bending and shaping concepts to help established restaurants expand their brands while staying true to traditional concepts,” continued Walker. “We had to be extra careful on this project because the building is in the historic section of Ridgewood and has buildings on both sides. We applied vigilant precision to all design work being done along the walls and roof to avoid any damage to the neighboring properties while maintaining the historic features of the structure.”

The project took seven months to complete and re-opened in November 2017 with a new craft beer list and updated menu. New dishes include sweet potato nachos, cheese steak taquitos, chili lime grilled chicken, seafood paella, and deviled eggs topped with buffalo chicken.

“The consumer demand for an improved fast casual dining experience is transforming the landscape of restaurant architecture and design in high density, urban areas,” said John P. Capazzi, AIA, president of RSC Architects. “In addition to 40North, we’ve helped major hospitality brands like Pret a Manger, Maison Kayser and Le Pain Quotidien transform themselves for the modern diner with creative solutions and innovative architecture.”

The Hackensack, New Jersey-based architectural firm has been in business since 1971. 

Check out the gallery below for all photos. Photos courtesy of Katie Glicksberg and RSC Architects.