Simple Simon Design, an architecture firm based in Bristol, has recently been rewarded with the Best Independent Restaurant award at this year’s Casual Dining Design Awards for their impressive work on Graze Bar Bath.
The practice have been in operation for 11 years and specialise in hospitality projects specifically bars and restaurant, Simple Simon have also been involved in a lot of independent projects.
Graze Bar Bath was a very challenging new build site which Simple Simon Design undertook on behalf of Bath Ales. Bath Ales is an independent brewery, established in 1995, the brand now have a range of pubs in the Bristol and Bath area and wanted to create something unique with a food offering for customers, as well as an array of premium ales. Graze Bristol was the first food led venue for Bath Ales and was followed by the opening of Graze Cirencester before the Bath opening.
The venue is located just outside Bath Spa train station and comprises a meaty menu, mainly featuring cow and pig products, and its very own quirky microbrewery. The venue has a large island bar, an impressive dining counter and is fully glazed throughout and so offers views of the incoming trains and the beautiful city centre.
The venue also has a meat locker slap bang at its centre enabling customers to view the hanging meat through glazed walls. Simon Hall, Simple Simon Design’s Managing Director, said:
“We introduced a lot of texture into the new building including deep button back leather banquettes, reclaimed wood from an old factory, and used lots of different metal finishes which link in with the breweries and trackside location of the venue as well. At Graze we wanted to introduce the sort of comfort you would experience in a high end steak restaurant.
“We have also introduced a large terrace on the track side of the venue which is decorated by rusted steel planters and a quirky fibre glass mini menagerie of cows and pigs. The High Line garden in New York was the inspiration; it is also a great addition to the venue as outside dining is in short supply in Bath.”
Simon said that the Simple Simon team are very proud of the work they did at Graze, but admitted that the unique location of the venue only enhanced the impressive nature of the building. He added:
“I think we won the Best Independent Restaurant award because the venue strikes a balance between a contemporary and rustic feel. The judges said the venue has a sense of symmetry that made it stand apart from the other nominees. I feel it is the best thing we have done to date; it is definitely very distinctive.”
Another three of the firm’s projects were nominated in the Awards including Aqua Milton Keynes, River Cottage Canteen Bristol for Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, and Grillstock in Bristol. The firm have worked with Aqua for about six years and have been involved in projects across their entire estate, mostly based in the West Country.
Aqua Milton Keynes involved renovation of a poorly trading Spanish restaurant; including a thorough rip out of the venue and the installation of a second mezzanine level, to add a sense of fluidity to the building which already contains a high mezzanine floor. The interim level makes both floors better connected to the ground floor. A decorating and furnishing scheme was also introduced which reflected Aqua’s own values of premium casual dining.
Grillstock is a well known BBQ and music festival held in Bristol and Manchester. The Grillstock brand wanted a restaurant statement which represented them. The venue echoes the BBQ style of food served at the festival and also has music facilities. The restaurants interior is decorated with the festival posters and quirky signage, again which adds to the festival feel.
With regards to being involved in the Casual Dining Design Awards Simon added:
“The other firms that were nominated are all organisations we look up to and so it was great to be amongst that group. We pride ourselves on our creativity and we believe strongly that design is not just about aesthetics; it is a solution to a business problem and we answer operational needs.”