The California-bred eatery just opened its flagship East Coast store in New York City’s Flatiron District, but what’s exciting about this particular chain is that no two restaurants look alike. With bespoke menus, elevated design, and a multifunctional business model—Tender Greens is an eat-in, carry-out, and catering venue all in one—this company goes past the cliché to deliver quite the unique dining experience.
“We aren’t trying to be on-trend,” says designer Brooke Spreckman of
Spreckman and the architecture team gutted the 4,600-square-foot space and designed a restaurant defined by balance. With fine materials like aged copper and a marble chef’s counter complemented with crisp white paint and contemporary light fixtures (the custom “G” wall sconces, a play on the restaurant’s new logo designed by
“For New York, we wanted to pump [the design] up and make it feel ‘city modern eclectic’,” she says. “Having the light fixtures and the random shapes that they bring feels city-esque. Everything else feels light and airy, and we used natural wood to make it feel California-like. We used terrazzo floors in the entry and wooden furniture to make it feel like you’re in an outdoor space when you first walk in.”
Tender Greens is a prime example of the “fine casual” movement, a type of restaurant that’s been gaining traction as of late and is
“To me, fine casual is a place you feel like going to for both meals of the day; whether it’s a fast lunch or a really nice and healthy (but still cheating-on-your-diet) dinner. As a designer, fine casual needs to feel unique enough in terms of the design and materials and have enough creative interest to keep me inside and eating,” says Spreckman.
According to Spreckman, the multipurpose nature required of today’s restaurants in order for them to stay competitive is part of the appeal as a designer.
“It’s the middle ground of finding the right audience,” she says. “It’s a really interesting business model, and it’s an exciting time to be part of [the industry] because people are still figuring it out. Restaurants are still panicking over mobile apps—how do we figure out custom storage for those to-go boxes? How do we maintain a full restaurant of people who are still seated? You’re not just serving food anymore, you’re maintaining three or more functions at the same time. That’s why fine casual is blowing up right now: It’s like a massive puzzle, but that’s what makes it so exciting.”
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