Before Photo After Photo
Dick Mondell’s Burgers & Fries
412 SW 4th Avenue, Gainesville
Originally developed as a drive through restaurant, the building and property at the northeast corner of SW 5th Street and SW 4th Avenue in downtown had most recently been used as a storage facility for GRU. It had subsequently been vacant for several years when the prospective new Owners approached the design-build team of JE Decker Construction and Brame Heck Architects to assist in restoring the building to its original intended use, while taking part in the overall revitalization of our downtown.
With several artisanal food vendors located directly across the street, Dick Mondell’s contributes to the food-centric character of this intersection. Owners Chris Leckerling and Connor Castelli, both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), have presented a carefully designed menu with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. The idea was to do a few things, and to do them very well. This philosophy translated to the design of the building renovation.
One of the original pair of drive-through lanes was maintained, while the second lane was converted to a walk-up window; its drive-through lane modified to serve as an outdoor eating area. This allowed the corner of the property to serve as a social space, linking the sidewalk to the walk-up window. The site design encourages walkability, and makes the property easily approachable on foot, by bicycle, or by car.
The building façade was updated as well. Besides general cleaning and painting, new windows were added, and the south elevation was redesigned. The architect had originally proposed adding a parapet signage element that would simultaneously serve to screen the new roof-mounted exhaust equipment. However, that sign would have been too large to meet the requirements of the city’s signage ordinance. So after some reconsideration, the team came back with the idea of a parapet that simply supported, reflected, and complemented the building signage and logo. The resulting scheme integrates the building and the signage into a cohesive and recognizable image. Color schemes were intended to closely follow the Owners’ logo designs.
Just as higher quality ingredients yields better tasting food, a few very carefully executed design elements can create an environment that is distinctive and dynamic. These are lofty goals for a fast food joint, but Dick Mondell’s is not your typical fast food restaurant, and the design problem was both fun and challenging. The team tried to do only a few things and do them well. Aside from the kitchen, the design-build team focused on updating the building façade, and creating an outdoor seating area. As design ideas were floated and discarded, the search for a unifying signature design element eventually yielded the parapet wall that simultaneously supports the Dick Mondell’s logo, while framing the kitchen, and hiding the rooftop equipment from view. The façade serves as the backdrop for the seating area, and helps with orientation and wayfinding to separate car and pedestrian traffic, seating, and serving areas.
Here is also a link to an article that appeared in the Gainesville Sun on Jan 20th 2019.