New York design firm expands DineOutNYC plans to help restaurants provide safe indoor dining experiences

Composition based on a Face Mask and Restaurant Objects. Concept of the reopening of the Restaurants after the Covid pandemia
Photo via Getty Images

With 25% capacity for indoor dining beginning on Sept. 30, a local design firm has come up with some templates for restaurant owners to provide a safe dining experience while maximizing their revenue.

David Rockwell, founder and President of Rockwell Group, the New York-based design and architecture firm, today announced its expansion of DineOut NYC to include designs catered to outdoor dining, indoor dining and takeout. 

“DineOut was an effort to help restaurants in neighborhoods across New York City to utilize outdoor and public space to generate much-needed business. With the return of limited indoor dining we are looking to find ways to expand our learnings from the initial DineOut NYC program to create an integrated model that allows restaurant owners to more seamlessly utilize all of these spaces in a safe and comfortable way for indoor dining, outdoor dining and takeout,” said David Rockwell, founder and President, Rockwell Group. “We have made our design templates available for free to restaurant owners and the public to create similar, safe dining spaces that are adaptable for indoor/outdoor dining options.”

Since the first days of the pandemic, Rockwell Group knew that they would need to adjust their plans to help restaurants welcome back customers safely. This included creating safe places for restaurant workers and guests, and better utilizing space outside restaurants during this period of social distancing.

Now, Rockwell Group is upping these measures to make indoor dining while social distancing possible. The firm is partnering with Cosentini-A Tetra Tech Company to update HVAC systems at each restaurant.

Rockwell Group will debut its first integrated indoor/outdoor design at Melba’s Restaurant in Harlem as a pro-bono project, funded by the non-profit, a partner project of the Fund for the City of New York. Rockwell Group also worked with Gil-Bar Industries is providing HealthWay Air Purification System filters for Melba’s Restaurant, Way Forward Signage Co. by Base Design and HASTINGS Architecture creating new graphic signage, and Walker Ridge Construction providing the lighting electrical supplies and Empire Technical Fabrication building Melba’s restaurant partitions.

“David Rockwell and Rockwell Group from the onset of the Pandemic, have been helping restaurants like mine, in all five boroughs, to reopen safely,” said Melba Wilson, President, NYC Hospitality Alliance & Owner, Melba’s Restaurant.  “David and his team have been advising us on how to safely reopen, within  government guidelines so that we may maximize our business.”

At Melba’s Restaurant, the layout of the restaurant and the choreography of staff and patrons has been reworked to allow for a more seamless and safe flow of activity. A new host stand will facilitate indoor and outdoor dining as well as takeout orders, and custom framed plexiglass panels will allow couples and small groups to sit closer together without the risk of exposure to one another. Portable, ground air filtration units will help purify the air indoors.

“Safely returning to indoor dining is critical to ensuring the recovery of New York City’s restaurant industry and protecting vital small businesses and jobs,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “Congratulations to Melba’s Restaurant and the Rockwell Group for their continuous leadership and innovative solutions to the challenges facing our industry. Their partnership raised the bar for welcoming back customers at the inception of outdoor dining, and their planning and rigor will be essential for expanding safe indoor dining in the future.”

Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke and Gramercy Tavern are also working with Rockwell Group to integrate DineIn elements.

“Nothing matters more than creating confidence for our team members returning to work and for our guests coming back to dine with us. We were thrilled to have the support of our longtime design partner in reimagining every element of safety as we reopen for indoor dining. David and his team were at the forefront of showing New York how to safely open for outdoor dining, safely, and have taken that same meticulous attention to detail to the relaunch of indoor dining in NYC, a crucial step in our industry’s recovery,” said Danny Meyer, Founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG).

For more information and for free design templates for DineOut and DineIn, visit RockwellGroup.com.