Best Design — Limited-Service Restaurant
Winner: Sake Express, Gastonia, N.C.
Sake Express is a quick-serve Japanese sushi and steakhouse restaurant that has been voted Best Japanese Restaurant in Gastonia, N.C., for 15 years. The well-loved spot was due for a refresh and the owners wanted an open space with high visibility that didn’t look like a typical fast-casual restaurant. The entire space was overhauled with a strong emphasis on safety and cleanliness. A custom handwashing station in the entry vestibule impressed judges, as did the project team’s overall great attention to little details.