The importance of street presence

From the IBJ Property Lines Blog
What does it mean to have a visual connection between inside and out? What is the impact of having street presence? In commerce, it could mean the difference between success and failure.

Take for example the former Taste of Tango restaurant. As far as know, it was a fine restaurant. But I never dined there. Why? I walked by the place several dozen times. But I could never see inside. I could never determine what kind of restaurant it was. You first eat with your eyes. And Taste of Tango looked bland. Hidden. Unappetizing.
Dec. 3, 2010 - a work in progress
Now look at Hue Dine. It isn’t open. Or even finished. But walking by, it caught my attention. It’s like seeing a steak in the meat counter: it’s not cooked; it’s not close to being finished; but you can tell that the potential is there for something delicious. All because you could see it.

That’s what it means to have street presence. By opening up the street front, they have captured my interest.
Dec. 3, 2010 - a work in progress
And my interest caught the interest of Jeff Hunt, consultant and business manager for Hue Dine (he will also be living in an apartment above the restaurant). He invited me in, not knowing anything about me other than I had stopped to see what was going on. Inside, they are opening the space up even more. Kitchen and dining will go on the first floor; a lounge will occupy the second floor. There will be a rotation of artist displays on the walls and organic foods on the plate.

Will it be a success? Who knows. But I know they have my attention. And that opening their storefront, they have a great opportunity to capture the attention of others. Best of luck to Mick Redd (owner), Jeff, and everybody of Hue.

Comments 7

  • Urban Design 101 case study!
    This dovetails with Greg Meckstroth’s recent post about gay bars: uninviting storefronts are a way of keeping out the uninvited or uninformed. A barrier.
    It’s simple: If you can’t see in to judge what kind of place it is, and don’t already know, you don’t go in. Maybe good for establishments that don’t want to be “open”, but not good otherwise.

  • What about Morton’s Steakhouse. So, maybe one feels it adds exclusivity but look at the cost to the streetscape.

  • Chris, you are correct, it does dovetail with Greg’s writeup. Good catch!

    Paul, Morton’s Steakhouse does give it an exclusivity feel. Being a chain, they probably don’t need street presence to be a success. But it does nothing for hte streetscape. Mo’s, St. Elmo’s, Ruth’s Chris… they all have connections with the street and passerbys. I suspect they are more likely to get impromptu visitors from the street than Morton’s. Mo’s, in particular, is wide open. And what a beautiful space! Is it beautiful inside Morton’s? Who knows, unless you’ve been there.

    • I think being anonymous is part of the theme for Morton’s. I’ve only been to the ones in Indianapolis and Louisville, and both are in the basement with a barely noticeable front door.
      I know there are quite a few celebrities that dine there, so having a place with no windows and no impromptu visitors might be a selling point for them.

  • Nice article. It is interesting how timid people can be when deciding whether to go into a new restaurant or establishment. With higher visibility comes higher comfort and thus more patrons.

  • FYI – Taste of Tango food was mediocre and somewhat pricey.

    I understand your point about the street presence, but if they had great food they would probably still be around. They were inferior especially compared to nearby Fogo de Chao (both were supposed to cater to the similar beef loving crowd).

  • I’m excited for another downtown dining option. Goodluck to Mr. Reed and Hunt!

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