Project name: The Yard at Waller Creek
Category: Restaurant Within a Hotel
Location: Sheraton Austin Hotel, Texas
Date completed: May 2016
Interior designer: Studio 11 Design
Architect: Studio DWG
Hotel Group: Starwood Hotels & Resorts

The Yard at Waller Creek is a indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar concept that offers local, sustainable cuisine for a uniquely Austin, Texas experience. Coinciding with the revitalisation of Waller Creek, a growing development that runs directly behind the hotel consisting of outdoor bridges, parks and trails, a new concept was born for a 144 cover restaurant that would ultimately become a vibrant part of the hotel. Relocating the bar to the lower level and renovating the restaurant was critical to the client’s goal of activating the outside areas of the property, as well as creating a more engaging, distinctly Austin food and beverage experience. The challenge lay in preserving the property’s timeless allure, while also incorporating modern, innovative design elements.

Playing on the idea of a backyard, the restaurant design merges the outdoor creek bank with the indoors, creating a pleasant juxtaposition of indoor and al fresco dining. The design was closely tied to branding objectives to create a sophisticated but homely aesthetic, drawing patrons back to a simpler time. Craft paper packaging and menus on clipboards convey the vintage attitude of the space. The “Backyard Lemonade” bar concept developed by mixologist Jason Kosmas features signature cocktails served in branded glass bottles. With a primary goal to refresh the space with contemporary, city-specific custom artwork, each element was carefully curated to tell the story of the the city. Natural materials harkening to the stunning Texas hill country were incorporated, but elevated with metallic, mirror or acrylic characteristics. Each piece reinforces, supports or builds on the narrative the design team set out to tell.

The team also strived to achieve a holistic approach to the design and brand identity by using natural textures and imagery as the foundation. For example, a variety of wood applications showcase a thoughtful approach to a versatile material, while simultaneously creating consistency throughout the space. Richly coloured wood floors contrast the variety of grains and finishes defining the tables, chairs and shelving. Thin wood pieces come together to create a one-of-a-kind display in the main dining room. Most notably, a feature wall above the bar displays weathered wood planks, marble tiles, and gold accents laid in a custom, geometric-inspired pattern.

The casual and creative feature is a nod to the menagerie of energy that lives within the city. The same sculptural lighting that draws guests into the lobby also attracts attention down to the lower level with a cascading fixture that floats above the new bar and restaurant. By utilizing the large expanse of windows and natural light, this space acts as a transition between the interior and the incredible outdoor space. Inspiration was also drawn from local colours, patterns and popular attractions. This ranged from the design of the coffee cup sleeves to the uniforms on the wait staff. From arrival to departure, the restaurant guest is surrounded by cohesive design in both the interiors and brand identity.