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From Home Furnishing Business

Editor's Letter : Dining Inspiration

Most of you know that I love a great meal. I’m not too shy to admit it. Whether it be at home or out. I dig cooking a big meal for family and friends and gathering everyone around the table. I’m not partial to preparing any particular meal—breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner all suit just fine. The key is that good food brings folks together. And a cozy dining spot, furnished and decorated just so, makes the meal and time together even better.

Lately in my travels, as well as here at home, I’ve been to a few restaurants. Some of them new; some of them well-established spots. Each of them sport their own special slant on eats, and some offer drop-dead, gorgeous décor. The design in a few give you the feel of walking into a RH catalog or, better yet, someone’s well-appointed, comfortably dressed home. How welcoming and calming.

While in Philadelphia for a team pow-wow last month, we went to a relatively new spot, Route 6 (Route6Restaurant.com) named after the highway that begins in Provincetown, Mass., and meanders through Cape Cod.  The restaurant is located just South of our offices in Philly, in an area that is undergoing a resurgence. A number of great eateries have popped up and more are sure to follow.

Walking through the door, it hit me that there is an abundance of decorating ideas staring every one of Route 6’s diners in the face. Cozy, linen covered banquettes coupled with a feast of blond wood and metal accents. The welcoming décor makes you want to move right in. It’s an upscale beachy feel, without being kitschy—or sandy.

Another favorite in the city of Brotherly Love is The Continental Mid-Town (ContinentalMidTown.com) on Chestnut Street, not far from the famed city hall. A small-plates joint with a great mix of food to meet a variety of tastes.

Both restaurants are owned by Starr Restaurants, but the vibe of each is quite different. The Continental Mid-Town offers a more retro feel with 1960s-era chairs, curved banquettes and brightly colored tables. Upstairs you’ll find hanging wicker swing seats that allow diners to gently sway while dining.

It’s just a hip, relaxed space that serves a mean lobster mac n’ cheese and scrumptious Thai chicken wraps. Never a bad meal.

On the West Coast in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., I was fortunate enough to dine with a great old friend recently at Veladora, (RanchoValencia.com/Dining)the stunning restaurant at the newly renovated and recently reopened Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa.

A spectactular farm-to-table menu and a beautiful hacienda-style setting with open ceiling beams and dramatic metal chandeliers make diners want to linger long over drinks, dinner and dessert.

So what the heck do restaurants have to do with furniture retailing? In addition to the fact that consumers spend a lot of change on dining out these days, restaurants have become another space for  consumers to turn for inspiration in home decorating.

Your stores should be the first stop in finding that inspiration. Well-merchandised stores tend to be more successful that those that just toss the sofas on floor and line them up like soldiers waiting to march out the front door.

In this issue, we talk merchandising. Most specifically the marriage of a well-merchandised floor and a well-merchandised Web site. The two must go hand in hand, working together to entice consumers.

Enjoy the read, and we all look forward to seeing many of you at the market in Las Vegas.



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