When the owners of favorite Boston sushi spot O Ya decided to expand to New York City, they chose CCS Architecture for the design of the new restaurant, which is located in the Park
South Hotel in New York’s Flatiron district. The bi-coastal firm was a natural
choice for the architecture and interiors of the new dining spot, having worked
on several popular San Francisco restaurants, including Twenty Five Lusk and Restaurant Lulu, as well as numerous residential projects. With O Ya receiving
rave reviews, we sat down with CCS founder Cass Calder Smith to learn more
about the project.
Q: The firm has does several restaurant projects. How does restaurant design differ from residential
A: In some ways, they
are polar opposites. Restaurants are fully public places while homes are
private. With restaurants, not only do you have to consider design but also
function, engineering, cooking systems, brand and budget. We try to make
restaurants as artful as possible, and I do like to use residential materials
in restaurants. At the end of the day though, they are very much about
Q: What was the biggest design
challenge with O Ya?
A: It was quite hard to
fit the restaurant into the space we were given. It was a balance between
getting the seat count to 60 while ensuring ample kitchen and storage space. It
was also a bit complicated to create an entry from the street that was
welcoming and discreet.
Q: What was the biggest
A: The restaurant is a
surprise in itself. The way diners enter from the sidewalk to the front door is
really nice, and once inside, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. It doesn’t
feel too crowded even when the restaurant is full.
Q: Tell us about the inspiration for the design. Did you
take cues from the original restaurant in Boston?
A: It was important to
the head chef and owner Tim Cushman and his wife Nancy that the design of the
New York restaurant be consistent with the look and feel of the Boston location,
which is very casual and in an old concrete building. They didn’t want a copy,
but they wanted the New York one to have a similar DNA. I’ve visited Japan many
times so my sense of the country was also infused into the design.
Q: How did the restaurant's location in a hotel influence the design?
A: Although part of the
hotel, we worked hard to distinguish the restaurant as its own destination and
Q: Does the firm have any more
restaurant projects in the works?
A: Yes, we’re working on
a larger restaurant in the same hotel as O Ya. We also have upcoming
hospitality projects all over the world—Mexico, New York City, Seoul, the United
Arab Emirates, Miami, San Diego, just to name a few. We are also working on homes in the Hamptons,
Bay Area and Illinois.
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