One of the most important aspects of opening a restaurant or cafe is crafting a physical environment that connects the food and beverage offerings with a particular history, style, and culture. Authenticity is important to today’s savvy customers. Targeted by thousands of marketers every day, they can smell a fake from a mile away. Chain restaurants and cafes lack the unique ambiance enjoyed by the discerning customer. Ambiance cannot be duplicated, it is simply harnessed by proprietors with vision and will.
John Meehan of Meehan’s Irish Pub in St. Augustine stressed the value of incorporating salvage into design plans during the renovation of the pub’s 130-year-old building. JP and Mariah built out the space for Southern Roots Filling Station with salvage, creating an atmosphere that reflected their strong ethical commitment. Will and Samantha Morgan of Vagabond Coffee Co. recently launched a brick-and-mortar location in Murray Hill with the help of cost-effective salvaged materials. With a die-hard DIY attitude, these business owners have created warm, inviting spaces that bring their patrons back again and again.
Operations of a larger scale can capture that atmosphere without relying entirely on DIY muscle. Billy “the Woodchuck,” a custom fabricator at Eco Relics, recently designed and built seven tables and twelve benches for Mojo BBQ in St Augustine from reclaimed old growth Georgia pine. He also built a 15ft bar top for Whole Foods on San Jose from a recycled school gym floor.
“Using salvaged materials gives purpose to something that still has use and value,” Billy says. “It’s a good reflection on a business to see they are doing their part to keep these materials out of the landfills and have one-of-a-kind furniture with a story behind it.”
Neighborhood institutions and architectural salvage are both associated with history, nostalgia, and culture. Building with salvage shows respect for customers, for the building, for your budget, and for the earth. Reused, recycled, and re-purposed materials help to create an authentic natural atmosphere that encourages people to stick around, socialize, and become part of the neighborhood.
Eco Relics is the largest dealer of architectural salvage in the southeast, with 50,000ft2 of vintage and antique building materials, furniture, equipment, and much more. The highly skilled and creative fabricators at Eco Relics are always ready to help develop a concept or troubleshoot a work-in-progress.