Red Letter Hospitality engaged Richardson Design to create a restaurant experience that is comfortable, modern, and brings an approachable upscale experience with a heightened level of culinary excellence to Erie, Pennsylvania. The Cork 1794 has two key design inspirations: America’s great wine regions (from Napa Valley to Western New York); and the Lake Erie shore. It was important to the owners that the space feel appropriate for an intimate dinner for two, a lunchtime meeting or a large gathering. These design inspirations are woven throughout the graphic design elements and the space and give guests a variety of dining experiences.

Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a large, modern outdoor fireplace that acts as a beacon as the guests approach the front door, and on the opposite side, an anchoring focal wall to the seasonal outdoor patio. The host stand functions more as a concierge for guests with hospitality overtones and touchpoints. This area also serves as a point of orientation for the guest where one can proceed past the piano to the open bar or navigate past the waiting area and into the restaurant.

The main gesture of the dining room runs from front to back with the dramatic linear ceiling sculpture drawing the guest’s eyes to the open kitchen. This provides a dramatic focal point and draws guests’ focus towards the back of the room and the chef’s table.

The Cork 1794 offers a variety of dining experiences within one space, from intimate dining moments to a comfortable bar and patio area for gathering with friends. In addition, two private dining spaces each reflect a certain aspect and character of the northern California wine region. The Stag’s Leap Room’s design is reminiscent of the Stag’s Leap District in Napa Valley and seats guests among the restaurant’s extensive wine collection. The Calistoga Room is inspired by both the destination and character of the community of Calistoga, California. The sun-lit Clock Room at the front of the restaurant has a brasserie feel. The walls are lined with antique clocks and the ceiling uses lustrous globes in the lighting design.

The adjacent bar is contained under a lowered ceiling providing a bit more intimacy, while still being visually and audibly connected to the dining room to lend some of its energy to the main space. Taking advantage of the location’s end-cap placement, the bar scene feels appropriately cozy in the winter yet opens to the adjacent patio to create a vibrant summertime scene when the activity in Erie moves outdoors. Fireplaces and overhead heaters help extend Erie’s traditionally short patio season by a few weeks on either end of summer.

Richardson Design, LLC
Phone 216.696.6780

Photography: John Spaulding Photography and Paul Sobota

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