In the rough and tumble, hyper-competitive restaurant business, it’s not enough to offer good food and service. The look has to be right.
Restaurants routinely hire consultants and designers who specialize in achieving an atmosphere with a special vibe that will generate the buzz that attracts a hip clientele.
So, where does that leave an earnest restaurateur with a limited budget and no corporate sugar daddy? “Go with what feels right” was the credo of the team behind Bar Takito, one of the West Loop’s newest eateries. The funky Nuevo Latino hangout at 201 North Morgan certainly boasts a unique décor.
For example, on the ceiling huge letters spelling out “BAR” and “AKITO” are lit with dozens of white bulbs. Midway between them standing vertically on the floor is a giant “T.” A couple of walls feature vintage typewriters.
How did Bar Takito come up with their signature design? I talked to Anshul Mangal, one of the restaurant’s owners, about the inspiration for the décor.
“Honestly, a lot of the inspiration was kind of just created on the fly, and a lot of it came from our previous space, Takito Kitchen in Wicker Park,” Mangal said. “We have a small T and K there mounted on the wall, and these letters were kind of an extension of it.
“Some of the inspiration came from the fact that a lot of Chicago restaurants are doing similar things with dark wood, lighted really dim with Edison bulbs, and vintage reclaimed wood. That’s very much what Takito Kitchen is, but we wanted to put our own twist on it. And we didn’t want to do a dim, dark restaurant.
“We feature big bold flavors and we wanted our décor to match that. We wanted it to feel bright and airy during the daytime to capture the daylight. We wanted bright colors and we wanted to get away from that dark muted look that everybody else is doing and stand out a little. And we kind of took a risk with that.”
Helping achieve the look for both Takito Kitchen and Bar Takito was local architect and interior design firm d+k.
“I worked closely with their designers,” Mangal said. “They helped do our first space so we shared a vision. When you’re working with a smaller budget as we were, a lot of decisions were done on the fly. Like ‘what should we paint this?’ Let’s paint it orange.”
There is plenty of orange at Bar Takito. And other bright colors, too. Again, that was no accident, Mangal said.
“The West Loop is filled with so many stuffy restaurants and we wanted to create a place where people can have a good time.”