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Communal Project

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Joined: 28 Jul 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 4:02 am    Post subject: Communal Project Reply with quote

We're set for doing a science fiction themed (geried? storied?) restauraunt. To further narrow things down, let's discuss what sorts of emotions we want the place to hold, and how those emotions might be achieved.

For example, to go back to the original over the top idea, the intended emotional response could be humor, and could be achieved through a combination of paradoy and visual gags.

Posts: 47
(12/10/05 6:10 pm)
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New Post at the moment...
A couple of emotions could be awe and amusement...

An example of aiming for both could be:
An alien science vessel crash landed on the planet earth.
It was found abandoned and only partially functional.
An entrepreneur transformed the place into an eating
establishment. All the decorations, costuming and
furniture were created from things salvaged from the
ship. Some of the experiments, apparently untouched
are still clearly visible...

Edited by: Holly3216 at: 12/10/05 6:15 pm
Posts: 52
(12/10/05 7:24 pm)
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New Post Re: at the moment... the SAME EXACT two words came to my mind!

The first thing I think of when I think of a sci-atmostphere is "awe". It would be easy to create an environment that has a lot of cool effects. Being that it is a family target audience (right?) a lot of innocent amusing sight gags would be cool.

I kind of like a mad scientist idea and all the waiters can have lab coats like lab technicians

people can drink out of beakers and all the condiments can be in flasks

just some thoughts

Posts: 123
(12/10/05 8:16 pm)
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New Post Re: at the moment... I'm thinking that awe and amusement, while not necesairly mutualy exclusive, would be difficult to combine. For example, in Holy's idea, the net effect could easialy come of as rather creepy in a Jurrasic Park sort of way; some untroponerical idiot is messing with what he doesn't understand to make a buck of tourists. Of course, that could be effective, but harldly what was intended.

I also think that a sense of adventure is fundamental to sci-fi, which makes an interesting challenge in the normally calm setting of a restauraunt.

Edited by: Meloncov at: 12/11/05 11:35 pm
Posts: 48
(12/10/05 8:22 pm)
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New Post Sci-Fi... Makes me think of Jetsons too... It would be interesting to try a "high-tech" fantasy restaurant... Ex. food appears steaming hot from a hatch on the table or wall at your booth (after announcement from table side computer)... video screens at each table... possibly even roving robots (
everything the future was supposed to be...

...or at least the fun part of it...

Edited by: Holly3216 at: 12/10/05 8:23 pm
Posts: 49
(12/10/05 8:27 pm)
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New Post creepy sci-fi True... could be creepy very easily...
sci-fi has tended to have that creepy element (many sci-fi writers were anti-technology and such...)...

But some enterprises have managed to take the creepy sci-fi and make fun out of it (ex. "Men in Black")... it just has to end up not too cheesy (ex. "Mars Attacks).

Posts: 124
(12/11/05 11:43 pm)
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New Post Re: creepy sci-fi I was thinking of theming it as a dinner cruise in the early ages of faster than light travel. Thus, not all of the kinks have been worked out. Due to this, random plasma storms and engine malfunctions could periodically interupt the normal display of nebulae (is that the right plural of nebula?) and stars.

You could easily add humorous element; a hyperdrive reaction coil held together with duct tape, food being cooked over a plasma vent, or an audio amniotronic alien creature named "Fluffy." However, I think humor would be most effective if kept subtle; each joke being a reward of sorts for sitting in a cerain place (and thus, coming to eat there more than once). Large meta-jokes tend to get old fast, and in this setting, repeat customers are extremely important.

Posts: 471
(12/12/05 2:34 pm)
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New Post My intial thoughts Good stuff so far. I’m going off awe and amusement…

My initial thought is that you’re eating at the dinning area of a top secret lab that you accidentally discovered (al a Men In Black). The entry way and exterior are non-descript, looking very ordinary. You walk up to an elevator and push the button, you are then asked to enter a secret code. Once you enter the code, the elevator then takes you to the dinning area.

Aliens are seen walking around and dinning with others. The waiters are new hires working their way up to secret agent. All sorts of top secret devices are being used in and around the dinning area. One area has a tele-transporter bringing in guest and food from around the world. Another area is a time machine docking lot, with great people from the past and future arriving and departing. Throughout the dinning areas are clues that point to the truth of some of the biggest government conspiracy theories ever.

If you want some interactive things, the dinning area can lead to a training facility where guest can train to be agents. These activates can range from video game type of simulations to a shooting range using out of the world guns.

Posts: 33
(12/13/05 12:22 pm)
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New Post Re: confusing I have always had a problem with theme resteraunts that have people eating in an non eating enviroment. (Why are people eating in a lab or space wreck or on a diffrent planet.) I think it cheapens the experience. Whatever story line we introduce I beleive should be a weird resteraunt or the dinner service on a space ship, but not in a lab or in the middle of the rainforest (how weak is that?)

Posts: 53
(12/13/05 1:38 pm)
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New Post story I think if you have a story to accompany a theme (why you are eating there) that no theme is weak even in a dining experience.

Posts: 126
(12/13/05 3:09 pm)
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New Post RE:story True, but telling a complex story line in a restaurant setting is difficult (but not impossible).

Posts: 54
(12/13/05 4:14 pm)
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New Post exercises
yeah, there would be no need to make it complicated, all you would have to do is get them there

On a side note... does anyone else do, like, themeing exercises? Because of this whole conversation I'm going to exercise my brain by looking at existing themed rest. and I'll try to create a simple story to explain them. Like Rainforest, Pirate Ship, and so on and so forth.

Posts: 127
(12/14/05 12:14 am)
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New Post Re: exercises I often wonder that myself; does (whatever attraction I happen to be at) have some backstory that I'm not seeing, or is it just non-existent.

Still, one of the more important things I've learned on this board is that backstory and story are not synonomous. A story is strictly necesary; a backstory is not, and in some cases, may even be detremental.

Posts: 50
(12/14/05 8:24 pm)
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New Post Re: exercises Sometimes, I think, the backstory *is* the story, though...

For example, sometimes the backstory is: famous people have eaten here and signed their names on the wall/pictures.

For another place I've been too, it was: this was an old railway car back in the 1800's. Now you can eat inside it.

For some Italian places the backstory is about the family that owned it, and the things and recipes that they brought from Italy for their restaurant patrons to enjoy.

For Planet Hollywood, it's: your favorite movie magic of the past was made with these props, which were handled by some of your favorite stars. Now you can come see these props and enjoy the memories of seeing those films.

For Rainforest Cafe, it might be that explorers cleared the way into the jungle so that people could eat in a pleasant atmosphere and gain greater appreciation for nature.

Certainly, other themed restaurants are about a currently evolving story.

Prime Time 50's Diner is about family and interaction between the staff ("Uncle" or "Aunt ______") and the guest ("The _____ Family").

For the Sci-Fi Drive-In, it's about the experience of being at a drive-in theater (since most have now disappeared).

The Enchanted Oak Tavern at IOA is kindof a mix of backstory and evolving story, as I've heard it described... Merlin was trapped/transformed into an oak by an evil witch. The word is that you can sometimes hear Merlin (esp. at the bar, I was

I don't know if the issue is so much how much story/backstory is necessary or desired, but how much does the story/backstory invite and entice people into the restaurant. How much does the story/backstory enrich and facilitate the activities that people come to restaurants for: mainly, to be in an environment that further enhances the enjoyment of food, and to enjoy the fellowship of the people they came with.

Think of the main things people complain about in restaurants... "It's too noisy... I can't hear anybody...", "It's too cold...", "The service is too slow".

I'd be more scared of the "entertainment/theming" upstaging conversations between people at tables too often... or, especially in the case of sci-fi, that the environment might be too harsh, uninviting or "alien"... and doesn't make people as comfortable about eating.

When I went to Planet Hollywood in New York, I chose to eat in one of the furthest rooms away from most of our group, because I couldn't imagine eating with the Crypt Keeper hovering over the table... it didn't seem very appetizing.

There's a lot of psychology to restaurants, and why people choose one place over another... beyond the quality and variety of the food.

Edited by: Holly3216 at: 12/14/05 8:28 pm
Posts: 129
(12/14/05 9:52 pm)
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New Post Re: exercises True. I suppose one of the difining factors is themed entertainment is whether the backstory is real or fantastical. If you have a very strong real backstory, that can be all you need, though it will produce a very different expierence from a fantastical backstory. My previous statement was intended in regards to attractions with fantastical backstories, as that is presumably what we will be dealing with.

In regards to the second part of your post, I would not worry overly about the themeing interfering with eating; eating while taking in media is quite common (for example, in movie theatres). What is a more pressing challenge is to avoid having the theming limit chances for social interaction.

Still, it would be very interesting to see a chart correlating movie genre with movie theatre snack food sales; it might yeald some very relevant data.

Posts: 54
(1/7/06 1:26 pm)
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New Post Re: exercises Somehow as I was reading back through the posts, I read Melencov's "Dinner Cruise" as "Jungle Cruise" (too much Disney, lol)... "And on your left is the screaming Buggblatter Beast of Traal... But don't worry! They're only dangerous when they wiggle their ears and blow bubbles!"


We have a lot of good story ideas... but it seems kind of hard to pick which direction to go if we don't know our audience... "Alien Encounter" at Disney, as I read today, was put in there because they wanted something to appeal to teens/adults... We have a few "scary" ideas... but some kids are skittish... so if we're looking at the "family" audience, we might want to go for something "friendly"...

Any votes on the audience we're going for?

My $0.02 for today...

Posts: 131
(1/8/06 12:16 am)
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New Post Re: exercises I vote famalies. In my totally unscientific observation, it seems that adults are somewhat skittish about entering a heavily themed area without children, out of fear of being seen as childish.

Edited by: Meloncov at: 1/9/06 6:16 pm
Posts: 32
(1/9/06 9:37 am)
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New Post What type of Restaurant? Are your looking for counter service/fast food (a la McDonald's) or Table service (like Denny's) or more upscale? Do you want a bar/lounge area? Personally I don't like "family oriented" restaurants that have a bar. Are you looking to do something with a dinner theater type show or just stick with architectural themeing? Are the wait staff included in the theme (costumes, acting, etc.)or are they just wait staff?

Perhaps you could describe the experience you want to have from start to finish in a first person narrative, starting from the parking lot and ending as your meal is finished and you are walking out the door, including all the people you meet and talk to, the sights you see and things you might do as an average guest.

Posts: 133
(1/9/06 6:22 pm)
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New Post Re: What type of Restaurant? I always imagined a sit down place. I think the value of the theming would be lost if people are rushing in and out, as typically happens with fast food.

While I can understand your dislike of bars in famialy friendly restauraunts, but they seem to work economically, and it could be fun to theme.

Posts: 55
(1/10/06 1:35 pm)
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New Post i coulda sworn Did we say that this was going to be in a shopping center? If so would the audience be the same?... like family oriented with a heavy lean on teens?

on a side note I'm glad we are picking this back up!

Posts: 134
(1/13/06 8:33 pm)
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New Post Re: i coulda sworn Yes, we did. Still, a place like this could have a strong enough draw that the audience of the mall doesn't have to be exactly dictated by the audience of the mall, though it can't just be disregarded. For example, focusing exclusively on famialies would be alright, but focusing on seniors would not.

I'm thinking a focus on famalies focuse more towords pre-teens with a secondary target of young adults, partially because of the genre and partially for buisness reasons. In my expierence, teens would tend to be reluctant to go to such a place with their parents (especially if their non-tourists) and tend to be unwilling to spend enough of their money on dining to justify the expense of themeing.

Posts: 55
(1/15/06 3:29 pm)
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New Post Re: i coulda sworn
I think the target audience also depends on your theme...

Chinese restaurants tend to have a themed interior... As do Planet Hollywoods and Hard Rocks... They are not teen-focused... or repellant to adults.

If your restaurant was in Sarasota, a focus on senior citizens would not be a bad thing... as long as the theme was appealing to them... (ex. retro '50's or "down home")

I think we shouldn't let the fact that we're using theming dictate our audience... just not forget who our audience is when we're deciding the final product...

For the sake of moving forward, let's pretend we have the following:

Audience: families and young adults
Space available: freestanding structure, 5,500 square feet (the size of your average Chili's -- a large restaurant)
Location: main road near suburbs, big city, southern/southwestern US
Type of Restaurant: sit-down/service

That's probably all we need to know at this point.

The way I've been told it (and understand it...I could have parts wrong), the actual process for a designer is the following:

1. Blue Sky -- meet with stakeholders (investors, etc.) and determine what they want... what their philosohies are... what their biggest dreams are, etc.
2. Charette -- using the info from meeting with stakeholders, find appropriate research and materials, and create a charette session (as needed) so that you can meet with them, identify major problems or opportunities.
3. Concept -- create the core/general idea that addresses problems, requirements, desires of stakeholder
4. Design Document -- create a document that outlines all of the specifics -- if it's not on paper, it doesn't get done
5. Production Bible -- a book of work orders for the various teams that will create the environment
6. Operator's Bible -- contains necessary details for those who will be operating, updating and retrofitting the place after you are finished with it.

Which means that it might help to have one of us step back and serve as the "client" or principal "stakeholder"... to say what they're looking for and hoping for (as a "businessperson/entrepreneur") and what major hurdles they see... That way, it might be easier to move on to a final concept and design... because we're not merely creating "anything"... but addressing "real world" problems and dreams... and fitting an awesome concept to the needs and goals of a "client"...

Edited by: Holly3216 at: 1/15/06 3:36 pm
Posts: 135
(1/16/06 2:53 pm)
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New Post Re: i coulda sworn You're right about the theming-it does depend on what exactly the theme is. Still, we decieded on a sci-fi theme, which almost certaintly apeals to a younger audience.

I think one of the things we need to decide is to what degree we want this to be a role-playing of the design process and to what degree we want it to be pure design. I think that getting to much into the role-playing will just bog things down, and thus, we shouldn't worry about it.

Posts: 56
(1/16/06 3:47 pm)
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New Post Re: i coulda sworn Yeah... it's just i see on a lot of imagineering boards, the projects don't go any farther than this... A lot of people think that "rules" and restrictions put a damper on creativity, but a lot of the time, it's quite the contrary... It's the restrictions that make people think out of the box and really come up with great things...


Posts: 137
(1/16/06 7:46 pm)
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New Post Re: i coulda sworn I agree, you can't just throw restrictions to the wind, but theirs a continuom between ease of development and structure. Things won't work with some guidelines; their are too many options that would need to be narrowed down, bogging things down. On the other hand, most restrictions cause their own problems:

Cost: None of us are really qualified to figure out how much a given component would cost.

Location: Already gotten bogged down as their are simply too many factors. Additionally, it's easy to justify that someone else figured out the best location.

Shareholders: Might work, but I think having people in the role of shareholders would proably be either useless (if the did nothing) or really annoying (if they did too much).

Area: Proably one of the best bets. I'll be starting another thread to discuss how big of a place we want.

Group Leader: We should proably have someone with trump power, in case things get too fragmented, but the process would be more enjoyable if it is a democratic as possible.

Posts: 58
(1/23/06 7:45 pm)
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New Post Re: i coulda sworn We seem a little stuck at the moment... What can we possibly take for granted at this point?

We might be able to agree:
- the restaurant should be for families
- it should be based off the science fiction genre
- it shouldn't be too creepy or scary
- it should inspire awe and amusement

What can we use to build off of these ideas? Since we all have unique backgrounds and experiences, that might be one way we could inspire each other...

Have you ever seen or read science fiction that inspired awe and amusement? If so, what was it?

What stories sucked you in when you were a child and created worlds that you wanted to live in?

Are there sci-fi images that really inspire and intrigue you?
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