“I understand you design stuff. I was wondering if you could take a look at something for me?”
It was the manager of a local restaurant, who had a seemingly simple problem. But, his simple problem required a nuanced solution, with customized details to fit his needs. So, he contacted an architect he had gotten to know through a local networking group that met at his restaurant, Tim McMinn of designsix in Belleville.
The restaurant manager was concerned that servers could potentially leave ice scoops in the ice. This innocuous-sounding action can actually cause serious cross-contamination, since servers’ hands come into direct contact with the scoop handle. To comply with state health code, the scoop should be stored outside of the ice. But, it also needs to be easily accessible for servers to quickly deliver ice-cold drinks to waiting customers. Whatever holds the scoop can’t drip water onto the floor and cause slippery, hazardous conditions for hurried wait staff. And, it must be rust-resistant and be washable.
To McMinn’s surprise, a product that met these specifications to fill a common restaurant need didn’t already exist. During his research, he found a stainless steel product that was similar in shape to what he wanted to create, and priced less expensively than purchasing raw stainless steel. In his shop, he cut and reformed it into a holster that hung on the side of the ice bin, keeping the scoop elevated outside of the ice and allowing condensation to drain back into the bin. It fit snugly to the bin, but was removable and sanitizable. The construction was smooth, to prevent snags and cuts on servers’ clothing and skin.
When McMinn met with the restaurant owner again and showed him the final product, he asked him if it was what he had in mind. “No,” the manager said. “But this is better.” Within a week, McMinn was filling orders for 11 more of the chain’s restaurants.
For businesses that enlist the services of architect, McMinn says the best thing they can do is tell the architect what they need – not what they want. Often, the architect can deliver a personalized, problem-solving solution that exceeds what a client may have originally envisioned. Said McMinn, “I like to tell clients ‘if you want to see what your future can be, peek over my shoulder at my drawing board.’”