Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants brought its casually upscale wine-and-dine experience to the St. Louis market in December, with the opening of a new unit at the Town and Country Crossing shopping center in the affluent suburb of Town and Country, Mo.
It's the 15th unit for the Countryside, Ill.-based chain, all of which combine a Napa-style retail wine/accessories and wine-tasting bar component with full-service restaurant and bar/lounge areas.
The new 9,000-square-foot Town and Country unit was a ground-up construction project. The restaurant occupies a high-profile corner space in the center, which includes anchor tenants Whole Foods Market and Target. "We extended the end cap of an existing retail building that was on the left corner of the shopping center, on a water feature," says Ron Dee, Cooper's Hawk's senior vice president of development. "The landlord allowed us to shave off the end of that existing building and add on 7,000 square feet, which became our restaurant. The original end-cap space became our kitchen/back-of-the-house."
The unit's exterior, Dee says, looks significantly different than any other Cooper's Hawk, as the center's architect designed the building's shell to ensure consistency with the mall's overall style.
"The deal we structured for construction was interesting," Dee says. "The landlord was going to build the shell with the exterior architect first and then turn it over to us to build the interior, but we wanted to open sooner than that would have allowed. We decided to use the same GC as the landlord, so they had one contract with us to build the interior and one with the landlord to build the shell. As such, they were able to build the whole ground-up project up at the same time, start to finish in 17 weeks."
Inside the restaurant, the first of three distinct environments guests encounter is the retail area where Cooper's Hawk sells its proprietary wines, as well as a variety of wine accessories and décor items. That space, roughly 1,500 square feet, also includes a long wine-tasting bar where customers can sample any of the company's 52 varietals.
Just beyond the retail store/tasting bar, guests arrive at the host stand positioned at the entrance to a wide hallway with walls of stone and glass. On the left side of the hallway, a private dining room, called the Barrel Room, seats up to 48 guests. Sliding glass doors partition that space from the main dining room. The doors also enable the restaurant to offer varying levels of privacy.
"We've used those doors in many of our properties," Dee says. "They slide back and forth onto themselves along a track and when open are concealed in the wall. We usually put frosted or linen-laminated decals on the glass so it can be opaque yet transparent and let light in."
Fashioned in the shape of a wine barrel, the Barrel Room's high, oak-lined ceiling is accented with metal racks holding wine barrels. "The architecture is very Northern California wine country in style and the barrels are authentic wine barrels that we have used in our own winery and now repurpose as décor items," Dee says.
Artwork in the room, as throughout the restaurant, celebrates grape growing, wine making and other wine-related imagery.
Overall, the restaurant features a California contemporary style and, as in all Cooper's Hawk locations, carefully curated finishes, furnishings, lighting and décor that evoke a Napa Valley winery experience. This includes oak table tops and ceiling trusses, steel and other metals similar to the metal bands that hold authentic oak wine barrels together, glass, stone and natural-fiber wall coverings. Flooring is wood-grained ceramic tile, which provides both the look of natural hardwood and the durability of tile.
"We actually found a vendor that makes a wall covering from horizontally sliced wine cork," Dee adds. "And a lot of our light fixtures are made from the metal bands used in wine barrels. We've used a lot of reclaimed steel from barrels and found lighting manufacturers that have taken that metal and used it to make light fixtures such as those in our bar."
While the restaurant specializes in and pours only its proprietary wines, it also includes a full-service bar where guests can order from the full menu. "The environment in the bar is a little more energized," Dee says. "The music is a bit louder and we have flat-panel TVs. It's a distinct environment from the dining room, where the music and the lighting are more subdued."
In addition to the repurposed steel light fixtures, warm, richly hued cedar-plank siding on one serves as a key design element in the bar. It's a finish that Dee says Cooper's Hawk uses on accent walls in a number the chain's locations. "We love the vibrant color and the richness," he says. "We want to use a lot of materials in the construction of the restaurants that are natural and authentic, materials that would typically be found in a wine growing and manufacturing environment. That's the experience that we try to bring to all areas of the country that we're developing in."
Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant
Concept: Upscale casual; combination winery, wine retail store and restaurant/bar
Location: Town and Country, Mo.
Opened: December 2013
Project type: New construction
Real estate: Shopping center, expanded end-cap location
Total footprint: 9,000 square feet, 285 seats
Exposition kitchen: 2,000 square feet
Retail store/wine bar: 1,500 square feet
Buildout: 17 weeks
Ron Dee, Sr. Vice President of Development
Walter Fischer, Vice President of Construction
Jennifer Kaufman, Director of Real Estate
Jennifer Kaufmann, Director of Development
Exterior Architecture: Chiodini Architects, St. Louis
Interior Architecture/Design: Aria Group Architects, Chicago
Artwork/Lighting/Accessories Design: Mosaic Design Studio, Columbus, Ohio