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Recess + Room 4 Restaurant

Demerly Architects


4907 College Avenue


Greg Hardesty, Recess


  • General Contractor: Kort Builders
  • Zesco Products

Project Status


Year Completed

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Project Description


One of Indianapolis' premiere chef and restaurant owner desired a new restaurant that would allow him the freedom and energy to create and serve 'farm to table' cuisine in a casual, elegant, intimate and inviting atmosphere. The vision was to create a restaurant that featured two unique dining experiences, whose menu would change on a daily basis. The client didn't want to be defined or confined to a specific style or type of cuisine, but each day would be his playground to create what was fresh, in season and locally available.

The design of the restaurant was to transform an existing 1930's one story multi-tenant retail storefront that is located in a historical but deteriorated neighborhood of Indianapolis. The first phase of the project included two 19' wide by 48' deep lease spaces with load bearing masonry walls,concrete floors and ceilings, and glass storefronts. With a limited budget of $60,000 for the 2,000 square foot space, the concept was to expose the original concrete structure of the space by sandblasting the paint off the cinder block walls and stripping the floor back to the bare concrete. The rich patina of the walls and floors provided the foundation of the school playground character of the space, and the unconventional approach to the new restaurant.

The restaurant's front door leads you directly into the Kitchen, making you feel as if you have come home to dinner. The dining area is located in the adjacent bay, with an open table layout that allows for conventional two and four top dining, or joined together into a single table for family style dining. The addition of two bulkhead/wall armatures provide scale and intimacy to the space, concealed indirect lighting to highlight the walls, and provided acoustical treatment for the room. The furnishings complete the playground theme with salvaged mid-century school chairs in three colors, white resin coated wood tables in lieu of white table cloth table service, and the rich warm color of macasssar ebony wood panels to provide warmth. The panels are cabinet doors that open up to reveal a custom wall mural (still to be commissioned) installation that transforms the space.

The second phase of the restaurant included the addition of Room 4 that completes the overall vision. The small plate menu and dining experience was to be unique from Recess, while complimenting the original design. The narrow 11' wide adjoining dining area is anchored with a long and low banquet that creates the base for the exposed steel ceiling/wall armatures that defines the space. Similar to the original cloth and wood features in Recess, the custom machined pixilated steel plates conceal the indirect lighting and provide the scale and intimacy to the space. The addition of orange resin coated tables, salvaged school chairs and the client's large format rock images provide the color to the space.

The spaces are connected with new masonry openings, finished with steel plates to create passages and transitions to each space. The entry area has a fixed table element that allows for waiting and congregating before and after dinner, as well as to provide the required separation for the adjacent bar. The exterior of the building was left original, painted and a series of awnings added to provide a playful and energetic image of the restaurant. The syncopated angled planes reach above the building's original front facade and incorporate the name and logo of the restaurant.
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