La Principal

Brand Development. Architecture. Interior Design.

Creating the Heart of a Business

A restaurant with a name like ‘La Principal’ could be a white table cloth restaurant on the finest street in Madrid, or a raucous road house on the Texas/Mexico border that is a little dangerous, and a lot of fun. With a menu of Mexican street food and a budget $300,000, the direction seemed predetermined.

When the owners came to me, all they knew about their new project was the location, the cuisine, the budget, and the name. We had worked together previously on the successful re-imaging and renovation of The Lucky Platter, so trust on both sides was high. They asked me to help them finish defining what the place would be.

The starting point for the design was this idea of fun with a little bit of naughty. The restaurant should allow people to have fun while feeling like they were being just a little bit bad. Both the owners and myself were big fans of the television show ‘Breaking Bad’, and a line from the show, “Just the right amount of dirty,” became the conceptual shorthand against which we tested design ideas and decisions.

The design moves always made sure to steer away from reserved and proper. The color scheme was saturated, touches of silver and gold pervade the space, the bar top is Parallam, and a back dining room is rough and ready with patterned vinyl tile floors and lit by string lights. “Highbrow” touches include custom millwork designed around an abstracted marigold and art from local artists commissioned for the space.

Process renderings:

Project Information and Credits:
Firm: Avery Architecture & Design
Location: Evanston, IL
Scope: Renovation of existing restaurant into new concept
Services: Brand & aesthetic concept development; Architecture and interior design
Size: 2700 sf, 93 seats
Budget: Approx. $200k for all construction & FF&E
Client: Derek Gaspar & Eric Young
Builder: Team One Group, Inc.
Photos: Terese Poulos & Richard Avery
Project Duration: Five months, start of design to opening