James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant Design
Owners Joe Sundberg, Rachel Johnson, and Patrick Thalasinos opened their second restaurant on a small neighborhood street in Seattle. Rupee Bar, second to their well-established Manolin, was a true labor of love to be built and constructed entirely by the owners themselves. The partners collaborated with Heliotrope Architects to design a space that would capture their journeys to South Asia. The design was to reflect Sir Lankan-inspired cuisine by incorporating three architectural gestures to the small 700 sf space. First was to use color to reflect the vibrant flavors of the cuisine. A peacock green was selected to fully immerse guests, transporting them from the grey skies of Seattle. Second was to bring a warmth through the natural materiality of wood. Oregon Walnut was chosen for its depth and richness; wood monolithically tops the bar and wraps the casework to bring an element of the Pacific Northwest into the mix. Third, was to punctuate the vibrant green and rich woods with accents of polished brass, Indian clay tiles and slatted pendant lights. Together these elements emulsify to create a complete dining experience that complements the aromatic dishes and spiced cocktails.