Café Aficionado

Los Angeles, California


Two American men working in Europe read an article on the baking techniques of ultra-traditional Parisian baker Lionel Poilane and decided to go into the baking business. Upon return to the States, they chose Santa Barbara, California to launch Aficionado European Bakery. Their endeavor was met with great success. They decided to open a European café serving breakfast and lunch to businesspeople. We were hired to expand their brand environment and design a prototype store on a shoestring budget.


When we create a prototype store, there is usually a healthy budget that ultimately gets amortized over the initial launch period. This project was different because there was no certainty that the café would succeed over the long term. The current success of the Aficionado existing brand was all we had to build on and our client trusted us to do that their bigger concern was their extremely limited budget. Our client had big dreams and we had no intention of letting them down.


We defined the givens and analyzed everything we had to work with, from the used cases and kitchen equipment to the existing lighting and old tile flooring. We evaluated, in detail, what had to go and what could stay and be slightly reworked. From there, the focus was on the customer and their experience, shaped from the Aficionado story, logo and reputation. No idea could exceed the limits of the time, materials or construction budget.


We replaced the old tile floor cost-effectively with stained concrete. A dropped ceiling was added to delineate the point-of-purchase area and provide a backdrop for the menu boards. New halogen light fixtures provided vibrant daylight in specific zones. We used color to reinforce branding and create a dynamic environment. We saved money everywhere we could in order to invest in new durable furnishings that provided distinction and comfort. In this creative and efficient way, we fashioned a café unique and distinctive to the Aficionado brand.

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