The Ask

When London-based cult ramen chain, wagamama, set their sights on the North American market, they tapped Chipman Design as the architectural firm to translate their popular British brand into an American success.

The Task

Chipman provided Due Diligence services including Lease Review and Life Safety/Code Review as well as modifying the European design for North American application. Fully coordinated Construction Documents were created in the firm’s New York office and Construction Administration services were provided throughout the 18-week construction schedule.

The expansive, bi-level restaurant, with entrances on both Fifth Avenue and Broadway, is sleek and modern with exposed brick walls, pendant lamps and rich wood accents. The three-story restaurant, 7,000 square foot overlooks Madison Square Park and features the restaurant’s trademark aesthetic: an open kitchen, communal table and minimalist wood stools. The build-out is impressive: first, a barroom overhung with a skeleton of black girders; then a darker, trestle-like middle room with stairways that lead to a balcony, bathrooms, and an upstairs dining room; and finally seating that runs along an open kitchen where many white-coated cooks are busily at work.

The brand’s ethos that has remained for more than two decades focuses on positivity, freshness and continuous improvement. Kaizen, a Japanese word meaning "good change," is a guiding philosophy of the wagamama brand, and thus adopted into the architectural design. It has been well-received in New York with frequent lines out the door, and US expansion plans are being developed with Chipman currently working on the second New York location in the East Village.

Detail of bar and barstools