New Restaurant: Giacomo’s cibo e vino,

September 1, 2009 by  
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Lynette Hawkins’ new restaurant set to open Fall 2009.

The new River Oaks restaurant, giacomo’s cibo e vino, 3215 Westheimer Road at Bammel Lane, reflects a design concept developed by a strong and experienced team consisting of owner, architect and artist. The unexpected design factor is that almost “nothing is square” in the concept – from the bold 1950s design motif to the floor plan. It is all based on trapezoids, some planned and some inherited.

“I challenged Kathy Heard to transform this old building into a modern Venetian Wine Bar,” stated chef/owner Lynette Hawkins, “and for it to be a frame for my great visuals of glistening, colorful foods that improve their flavors as they marinate, macerate and braise in their own juices. I wanted a restaurant where my guests could grab a tray, choose multiple little dishes, mixing textures, flavors and colors, as they build their own entree. A place where they can order a panini, a glass of great wine, pay for it and be ready to eat, all in less than five minutes. I also needed a chalkboard menu to allow me to change my food daily, as well as seasonally. I love my new restaurant. Thank you, Kathy!”

Kathy Heard, owner of OPEN Restaurant Design, and Lynette Hawkins, the famed chef/owner of the now closed La Mora Cucina Toscana, did not want to leave any doubt in anyone’s mind that the new restaurant concept is anything like what had been there before. Lynette Hawkins is no stranger to perfection, and her new “eat little, well and often” concept required an architectural design that would allow her new concept to take form and to flourish.

Since her award-winning design for Bertha’s Mexican Foods Restaurant on Montrose more than 20 years ago, Kathy Heard has applied her restaurant design philosophy to all of her projects – a restaurant should be “bold, yet simple, a background for people and the food they have come there to enjoy.” Giacomo’s could not be a better example of that philosophy.

Creating the flow for people and production of food in the new concept was the initial challenge for the design team in this 59-year-old conglomeration of buildings. The cookline requires direct visual and physical access to the front line, the wine bar requires displays and information, and the mercantile aspect requires presentation. These things were achieved by reorganizing the circulation with cabinetry that serves as display and marketing with the addition of entire walls of blackboard.

The building was stripped of all things extraneous, from fussy trim to busy finishes. The new neutral exterior allows the fabulous 1950s turquoise and black graphics to shine. The new neutral interior does the same, allowing the presentation of the food and a major wall graphic by Houston artist Rachel Hecker to shine. The new accent colors, predominately red/orange and turquoise, are derived from the 1950s and from inspiration from modernist artist Charley Harper.

“Literally, nothing in the building is square,” stated Kathy Heard with a laugh. “Walls, floors, ceilings, corners, everything.” The no-where-near-a-square-anything makes Rachel Hecker’s logo design and trapezoidal wall art the perfect statement for this new concept of a restaurant.

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