Hospitality environment and branding consultancy, Path Design, has designed a café and retail store as part of a three-stage catering project for premier London attraction, the Natural History Museum.
Situated in the museum’s Red Zone*, which houses the Earth Gallery, the 3,000 sq ft, 130 cover café and 2,000sq ft Earth Shop, has just opened to the public.
The existing café and shop locations have been re-orientated so that the catering offer now faces the Exhibition Road entrance of the museum. The long-term proposal for the pedestrianisation of Exhibition Road has been fundamental in this decision to bring catering closer to what will eventually become a major entrance to the museum.
The café is based on a self-serviced enhanced deli concept. The focal point of the space is a 10m long marble clad counter, which provides a continuous display of food. Two contrasting marbles have been used to clad the counters and walnut timber has been used to give warmth to the space.
The retail store, which has been opened up to natural light, has been given a contemporary look and feel. The shop will house the museum’s ‘earth products’, which includes natural stones and minerals as well as souvenirs and gifts.
Says Zoë Watts, head of events and catering at the Natural History Museum,
“Path were appointed following a stringent tender process in which they demonstrated an empathy and understanding of what we wanted to achieve in all 3 catering areas at the Museum. Not only have Path proposed designs entirely in keeping with our vision and brand, they have a strong understanding of the operational issues we face in catering and retail and their experience has helped to guide us towards the best practical and visual solutions in each area. Path has worked with us on every aspect of this major project: the layout and design of each restaurant, specifying and sourcing equipment and branding and signage.”
This latest project by Path Design is the second of the three-tier stage work for the Natural History Museum. Each will result in three distinctive offers that reflect differing visitor needs. The first café/restaurant, housed just north of the Central Hall, was completed in early June. At 4,250 sqft and 166 covers, the Benugo’s run space has made the most of the impressive architectural space, ceiling height and natural light.
Says Jon Muskett director at Path Design “in all of our work with the Natural History Museum, we were clear that we would create a space that made the most of the Museum’s natural architectural beauty and materials.
It was also very important to ensure that the restaurant and retail store would work both for the customer and for the museums commercial arm. We feel confident that we have successfully married these two factors together in this latest work which is about to open.”
He goes on to say “With our first project for the North Hall restaurant, we had a host or architectural features and natural materials to drawn on and were determined to thread this through to the fixtures and fittings**.
Since the café opened just over a month ago, the re-engineered space has seen significantly increased foot fall, with takings up by 80% on the previous year.”
The third project, a main restaurant housed in the Museum’s Green Zone, will cater for 270 covers and is due to open in December.