a bar with a bunch of chairs and a counter.


Last month, Kimberly was a featured panel member at the CREJ Commercial Interior Architecture & Design Conference speaking on restaurant trends. Denver’s restaurant scene is booming and changing quickly. Independent restaurants are in high demand; and restaurants who are offering an authentic experience, undertaking responsible green initiatives, and sourcing local ingredients are rising to the top of a competitive industry.

Some of the biggest trends in restaurants sweeping the nation are alive and well in our city. Multi- concept groups such as the TAG Restaurant group and Bonanno concepts are taking Denver by storm. The face of fast casual is changing with the introduction of futuristic food vending machines, and automated ordering kiosks. Successful food trucks, beloved staples of weekend gatherings and community festivals, are leveraging their loyal followings to establish brick and mortar outposts (check out the recently opened Ohana Grill). And, perhaps the biggest trend in restaurants right now is the rebirth of Community Food Halls. From Union Station to the Stanley Marketplace, Denver Central Market, and soon to come Milk Market at Dairy Block, it seems many restaurateurs and developers are taking note from the uber successful The Source Marketplace. 

What does this mean for restaurant design? Successful owners need to create unique experiences through thoughtful interior design to stand out, and more importantly, create a long-lasting success in this changing market. Here is our take on the latest trends:

Visual food displays and open kitchens.

Charcuterie, raw bars, vegetables, wood burning cooking – diners want transparency, sustainable ingredients, and openness from their favorite establishments.

Experiential components.

Activities like bowling, yard games, and table games transform a restaurant into an experiential destination. Punch Bowl Social, Viewhouse, and Breckenridge Brewery are local examples of restaurants combining this aspect seamlessly into their establishment.

Seamless interior/exterior spaces.

large floor to ceiling windows, garage doors that open in great weather, and rooftop decks with comfortable outdoor seating are timeless additions to any dining space.

Community Seating.

Community tables and shared seating, including Chef’ tables and Chef’s counters, are still a major trend in Community Food Halls and beyond. Creating an environment that encourages conversation while remaining comfortable and inviting is key.

Light, Bright, and Fresh.

Edison bulbs and barnwood can be great, but a definite fatigue has set in on this trend. Diners are looking for something with a fresher, cleaner look. Explore influences of Mid Century by embracing playful color, or play with light and airy tones combined with curated furniture to create inviting, bright spaces.

Tiles aren’t just for bathrooms.

From subway tiles to more modern takes, the large format and textures of many tiles add amazing visual impacts to a space.

Don’t go chasing…trends.

The best trend is not chasing trends at all.  Diners want what they know and love. Classic timeless interiors. The best interiors will make it difficult to tell when the restaurant opened, feeling edited over the years with many layers of details. The design should be authentic and curated over time.

Create a wow moment.

Create a wow moment by adding something unexpected and memorable like the Hopscotch painting in the hallway at Guard and Grace.