Located in DTLA’s thriving Arts District, and set inside progressive mixed-use complex One Sante Fe, sleek new bar Westbound is built on the site of the original 1893 Santa Fe Railroad’s La Grande Station. While Westbound mastermind and owner Sarah Meade worked with L.A.-based design firm Studio Collective, Hamilton Architects and Ramland Construction to bring her 2,100-square foot vision evoking luxe train travel to life; when it came to planning the kitchen Sarah was referred to Southern California Restaurant Design Group for assistance.
Account manager Robert Read was assigned to the project who, Sarah says, in addition to the rest of the SCRDG team, made the process smooth, efficient and as economical as possible. “We were dealing with a 515-square foot galley style kitchen, so space was an important factor,” she explains, “while our interior designer had lots of amazing suggestions Robert came in with plenty of practical advice about what would or wouldn’t work from a functional standpoint”. Sarah’s biggest must-have was to create a good flow between the kitchen and bar area, which connects the kitchen via two doors and allows easy access for getting ice, rum and other items.
“I love that Robert was able to help us create two stations for the bar. We reached out to several different companies who couldn’t quite pull off what we were looking for, but SCRDG made it happen. Thanks to Robert we were able to create a seamless flow between the two spaces using efficient, practical design. He also had some great advice about wine fridges.” Sarah added when it came to questions or queries SCRDG was on top of their game, while Robert’s knowledge of health codes was fantastic.
After meeting to discuss the project in May 2015, Robert signed-off on the final inspection, prior to Westbound opening on May 5, 2016.
Robert Read: Restaurant Design Out Of The Box
When Robert initially met Sarah, a first time restaurant owner, they sat down and discussed her vision for Westbound. Robert says she wanted a different type of establishment, which meant putting away the ‘that’s not how it’s done’ mentality and going with what Sarah planned. “I think a lot of our rapport came from the fact I was able to put aside my preconceived ideas while holding onto my knowledge of what we could get away with.”
Sarah’s work-flow for the menu included being able to prep food during midday hours for service starting a five o’clock, so Robert came up with a simple area for cooking that had expansion ability for new menu items, an area for pre-assembly of individual plates in addition to an area within the bar which would become the “Chef’s Station” for in your face food plating without any walls between the chef and the customer. Robert concludes by saying that, because of the innovative ways Sarah planned to serve her customers, they faced challenges with the health and building departments but by working within the system were able to make it all happen.
“I took away from this project the sense you should still learn something new everyday and working with Sarah I learned to set aside my preconceived notions concerning restaurant design. All clients may have that one idea that makes your day and Sarah had many.
At Westbound, brass light fixtures and dark brown leather booths are reminiscent of a 19th-century train car.
Chef Gary Nguyen: Elevated Bar Bites
While the 80-seat space boasts both indoor/outdoor seating and a garden patio lined with olive trees, in celebration of the site as a former historic railway station, design highlights include leather Pullman booths, a copper-clad bar and satin brass light fixtures. Crafted by Chef Gary Nguyen (Mélisse, Alma) Westbound’s menu centers around a selection of playful small plates, including a beef tartare and ricotta & pea toast; a shareable New Zealand Tai snapper crudo with pickled serrano, basil, coconut and balsamic anchovies, and their already famous foie n’ waffle.